Roeder's rallying call to Hucks

David Cuffley The Darren Huckerby of old is ready to emerge from the shadows and fire on all cylinders for Norwich City - according to his manager. Huckerby has started only three Championship matches in 2008, the latest at Sheffield United on Saturday.

David Cuffley

The Darren Huckerby of old is ready to emerge from the shadows and fire on all cylinders for Norwich City - according to his manager.

Huckerby has started only three Championship matches in 2008, the latest at Sheffield United on Saturday. He was unable to save his side from a 2-0 defeat, but boss Glenn Roeder believes there has been an improvement in his game, and that City fans could see the double player of the year winner at his best over the closing weeks of the season.

The 31-year-old forward has been troubled by hip and groin injuries, but played the full 90 minutes at Bramall Lane.


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"Gradually, he's built himself back up again. In the last couple of games, the last 10 days of training, I've seen a different Darren Huckerby, the Darren Huckerby that I remember from the last few years," said Roeder.

"The season's drawing to a close and we need Darren Huckerby to play like he has done just this last week and play with the energy that he's also shown and the acceleration that he's shown, because he's basically a straight line dribbler. He doesn't move the ball from side to side, he pushes it and he runs, then he'll stop and push it in another straight line and then run again.

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"He needs to be up on his toes and accelerate in the first three or four strides, which he hadn't been able to do when he had this hip problem."

Roeder, speaking at a fans' forum at Carrow Road on Monday night, admitted he only became aware of Huckerby's hip problem during a conversation with the player in January.

"By his own admission, not mine, when I called him in to see me, he hadn't produced what he's capable of producing since I've been at the club - fact," said Roeder.

"Darren's role is to make chances, make goals, score goals. By his own admission, from the first of November to when we had a chat, he wasn't doing that, other than a goal at Stoke and a penalty."

It was during this chat that Huckerby mentioned his hip, said Roeder.

"At the end of the day it's his hip. He knows whether it's hurting or not and he tried to play for a period of time without telling the physio that he was still getting trouble from it," he said.

Huckerby, who is four matches short of 200 appearances for the Canaries and whose future remains unclear with his contract up at the end of the season, said after the Sheffield United game that he was beginning to find his fitness.

He said: "I didn't know I was playing until an hour before kick-off. It was good to be back and I thought I put a few decent balls into the box as well and they just didn't seem to drop for us."

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