Safri: I'm fighting fit
Youssef Safri was today relishing the prospect of battling for his place back in the heart of the Norwich City midfield. The 29-year-old Moroccan international has not started a game since coming off with a hip injury against Crystal Palace nearly four weeks ago.
Youssef Safri was today relishing the prospect of battling for his place back in the heart of the Norwich City midfield.
The 29-year-old Moroccan international has not started a game since coming off with a hip injury against Crystal Palace nearly four weeks ago, in which time the Canaries have staked a late claim for a play-off place with wins against Stoke and Sheffield United and a creditable draw at Leeds United.
As Safri himself admits, no one has really made a central midfield position his own this season and with current incumbents Andy Hughes and Carl Robinson appearing to be making a real fight of things, manager Nigel Worthington may be loath to change a winning formula.
“It was frustrating to get the hip injury at Crystal Palace but I have been working very hard in training and I'm fully fit now and I'm wanting to play,” said Safri, who made a late appearance as a substitute against Leeds and was a 54th minute replacement for the injured Paul McVeigh against the Blades.
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“I'm very happy with the way things are at the moment. There's good competition for places at the club at the moment, but not just in the midfield, everywhere throughout the team.
“Nobody is really a regular in the midfield at the moment. But I don't wait around to be picked. I work hard in training and do my best for the club at all times,” said Safri, whose season has been blighted by niggling injuries and who was away for a month on international duty with Morocco at the African Cup of Nations.
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“I don't need to prove anything to the manager or the fans as they know my levels. I know my levels and I'm working hard all the time to maintain them.”
Safri declared: “I forget everything about the African Nations Cup now. It was not the best performance from our national team and now I am fully focused on playing to the best of my ability for Norwich City.”
Casablanca-born Safri is also adamant that the Canaries have a realistic chance of making the top six and earning a place in the play-offs.
“The play-offs are not just a little chance, they are a big chance,” he said. “I think that if you speak to any of the players that's what they are fully focused on. They are all up for the challenge and everything is very bright at the moment.”
Looking ahead to Friday night's clash against strugglers Burnley, to be screened by Sky TV, Safri is hopeful that three points will help give City a springboard into their final six fixtures.
“Friday will be a tough game but we played well against them at Carrow Road and there's no reason why we can't get a result at their place,” said Safri, who unfortunately conceded an own goal when the Clarets paid a visit to Carrow Road back in December, a shot from Jon Harley deflecting off him and looping over the stranded Robert Green.
“The last two games have not been the best football but at the moment it's the results that are important and not necessarily the performance. We must give everything in every game.
“Teams always get themselves up for playing against Norwich and that makes our job that bit harder.
“We've taken a lot of confidence from the last two games and a result against Burnley would give us more confidence going into what is another run of tough games,” he said.