Roeder: We're really in zone

David Cuffley Manager Glenn Roeder today declared his Norwich City team the fittest team in the Championship - but he wants them to start using it to their advantage.

David Cuffley

Manager Glenn Roeder today declared his Norwich City team the fittest team in the Championship - but he wants them to start using it to their advantage.

The Canaries face Plymouth Argyle at Home Park tomorrow (3pm), still looking for their first victory of the season.

With three games coming up in the space of eight days, City have a good opportunity to make up for their meagre haul of points in the opening four matches, and Roeder believes it is only a matter of time before his players turn scientific evidence of their superior fitness into points in the table.

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He bases his claim on the ProZone analysis system used by most Championship clubs to assess every player in every game.

He said: “The Pro Zone system we have is proving that, on the fitness table, we are top in terms of the ground all our players are covering.

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“A high percentage of clubs, I would say about 80 per cent, have this system.

“We don't know who's second, third, fourth or fifth, and all the teams who have Pro Zone won't know it's us at the top.

“You only know your own position in the league table if you want it. The level of fitness we've shown in the four league games, our stats, our results, have put us right at the top of that league.

“You want to be top of the Football League, obviously. The clever people will say it's fine being top of the fitness league but you win nothing, but I'm taking a broader view of all the information you can gather from ProZone, and part of ProZone is the fitness data it can give you.

“It says that on energy levels and high intensity runs and the endurance the players have shown in the four games, there is no one fitter than us in the Championship.

“What we have to do now is turn draws into victories and move up the table, which I must stress is the only table that counts.”

Roeder overhauled his fitness team at Colney during the summer and believes City are seeing the benefit.

He said: “We have had the early-season results that ProZone give out - the data on things like the amount of shots you're having, the amount of crosses you're getting into the penalty box, the amount of headers you're winning, the amount of tackles you're winning and the amount of passes you're making in every game, with a percentage on success rate and a percentage on failure. All the results that we've had, which includes the fitness data, are very positive.

“We just have to convert the chances we're making and turn draws into wins, which we need to start doing from tomorrow onwards.

“We hope if we can get this win at Plymouth it will kick-start numerous other wins over the next few months. I know the players are good enough to win plenty of games, but getting that first win is vitally important and it will give us a little more confidence.

“They're frustrated that they've not won and rightly so, and very frustrated that they've missed so many chances, but the next game is always the game that gives you the opportunity of putting it right.”

Elliot Omozusi is fit to return to action for the Canaries at Plymouth tomorrow - giving manager Glenn Roeder at least one tricky selection decision.

The on-loan Fulham full-back missed the 1-1 draw against Birmingham with a thigh muscle strain, Jon Otsemobor performing well in his absence.

“Elliot's absolutely fine,” said Roeder. “He's been flying in training so there is a decision to make there, because Jon Otsemobor did well in the game, but Elliot's also been doing very well.”

Goalkeeper David Marshall has shaken off the muscle strain that forced him to withdraw from the Scotland squad and has trained all week, but City must now wait on midfielder Sammy Clingan, who was taken off with a shoulder injury in Northern Ireland's 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

If Clingan is unfit, one option would be for Darel Russell to revert to a midfield role, with new loan signing Antoine Sibierski looking a certain starter in attack.

Said Roeder: “When Sibierski first trained last Thursday, the players could see straightaway the Premier League quality he has in his feet and in his brain. He knows what's going on around him, he's an old pro, he's only played in this country in the Premier League, he's scored Premier League goals and he's scored goals in Europe for me.

“We've had a few crossing and finishing and shooting practices since he's been here and he hits the back of the net very, very often and I just hope some of the quality and techniques he's using rub off on some of our strikers and other players as well.

“I think the lads are very impressed with him. He can't be match fit. He can't have our levels of fitness but he's certainly fit enough to play tomorrow if required, which I'm sure he will be.”

Summer signing David Bell is unlikely to figure in the next three games but has impressed Roeder in training.

He said: “It's early days for him. I've been really happy with what I've seen of David playing football.

“You watch someone from the stands and you imagine he can fit into the grand scheme of things or the plans that you have for your team, but there is nothing better than having a first-hand look at them at the training ground, being among them, watching them work and train and play and from what I've seen of David Bell so far, he's a very good footballer.

“I would have said he's still a good two or three weeks away but it's just great to have him on the training ground for the first time with us, every day. He has some good football quality in his feet.”

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