Robinson ready to answer the call
DAVID CUFFLEY Carl Robinson is preparing for his season to go into extra time - though not quite in the way he and most Norwich City fans would have hoped. The midfielder goes into Sunday's final match of the season against his former club, Wolves knowing that duty calls for much of the month of May.
Carl Robinson is preparing for his season to go into extra time - though not quite in the way he and most Norwich City fans would have hoped.
The 29-year-old midfielder goes into Sunday's final Coca-Cola Championship match of the season against his former club, Wolves, at Carrow Road (1.30pm), knowing that duty calls for much of the month of May.
But it is not the promotion play-offs - in which both the Canaries and their opponents would dearly love to have figured - that will force Robinson to postpone his summer holiday.
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Instead he will be hoping to add his 28 full international caps on tour with Wales, a trip that includes friendlies for John Toshack's men against a Basque Country XI in Bilbao on May 20 and World Cup qualifiers Trinidad and Tobago in Graz, Austria, on May 27.
Said Robinson: “To be fair, it doesn't end with the last game of the season. I won't have much of a break because 10 days after the end of the season I'll be off on a two-week trip with Wales. It doesn't stop for me until June 1.”
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How much sweeter it would have been for Robinson and international team-mate Rob Earnshaw had their league campaign also been extended by involvement in the play-offs.
Back in August, many would have viewed City v Wolves on the last day of the season as potentially a contest with big promotion implications, with echoes of the two sides' dramatic play-off semi-final encounters four years ago. Instead, a frustrating seventh place in the table will be the prize for Sunday's winners.
“It's nice to be playing my old club but it's disappointing because we missed out on our aim, which was promotion,” said Robinson. “Our away form is not what it should have been and the teams that have been promoted have been more consistent.
“Having said that, it's not just Norwich and Wolves who have missed out. There are some big clubs like Derby County, Southampton and Ipswich who are nowhere near seventh or eighth in the table, so yes it's disappointing, but there's a lot of competition in this division.
“I was fortunate enough to win the Championship with Sunderland last season when we were consistent throughout the year. A good start helps - Sheffield United had an excellent start this season and managed to do enough to go up. But Norwich started slowly and we have been playing catch-up.
“You always feel you can catch up, but the longer the season goes on, the more difficult it is. We left it too late - our current form is very good, and our home form is excellent with six wins in a row, but our away form could be better. We have to make ourselves harder to beat.
“It's a big test for us next season. We all know that our aim is to get promotion but with the teams that come down from the Premiership it will be a very difficult division again. It didn't happen for us this year but we have to get a good start and perform more consistently.”
Wolves, Robinson's first club, will always figure high in his affections after he made 164 league appearances, scoring 19 times, before joining Portsmouth in the summer of 2002.
He said: “They were great times at Wolves. I had eight years there and it was a big decision to leave.
“I was offered a new contract by the manager, Dave Jones, that would have taken me to a testimonial year, but it was not quite right - there were one or two details I was not happy with and I decided it was time for a change.
“But it was a good club, I got on well with people there and one of the biggest influences in my career was Robert Kelly, who's now manager at Leicester but was my original Wolves youth team coach. I still see Sir Jack Hayward sometimes and I have good memories of my days there. It will always hold a special place for me.”
Wolves boss Glenn Hoddle has come under fire - not least from the club's chief executive, Jez Moxey, in his programme notes - for their failure to reach at least the play-offs.
Said Robinson: “Wolves are a good footballing team and they will be disappointed to have missed out on promotion. But the lads there believe they have a good manager in Glenn Hoddle. They like working with him and they know he's a top-quality manager.”
One of Robinson's final acts as a Wolves player was watching from the sidelines as their play-off hopes went up in smoke against the Canaries four years ago.
“The play-off games against Norwich were in my last year with Wolves and I was on the bench for both games. The first leg was away and we lost 3-1, which gave Norwich a great start and though we won 1-0 in the second leg, it wasn't enough.”