Second chance for Kei Kamara to impress at Stoke
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Striker Kei Kamara is poised to move into double figures in Premier League appearances for Norwich City tomorrow – but he might easily have been playing for their opponents.
The Sierra Leone international had a 10-day trial with Stoke City in December, but was not taken on at the Britannia Stadium.
The man from Sporting Kansas City felt his chance of a breakthrough into England’s top flight may have gone when the Potters decided not to pursue their interest, but the 28-year-old was given a second chance with his loan deal at Carrow Road.
After his three substitute appearances and six consecutive starts for Norwich, plus a goal in the 2-1 home win over Everton, the game at Stoke is the penultimate fixture for which Kamara is available before his scheduled return to the MLS club, with his longer-term future still unclear.
He admitted it would be sweet to get on the scoresheet against Tony Pulis’ team, but insisted there were no hard feelings over his brief stay.
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“It was a good time,” said Kamara. “The manager is a good guy. I walked in and I was there for 10 days, had good training sessions with them and was able to play one of my games with Michael Owen up front. That definitely set off my whole trial spell with them. It was great.
“It was a team I felt I could have fitted into because I was more of an aerial guy, but it didn’t work out. I went back and joined my team in America.
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“Everybody has a different opinion. I didn’t press the coaches much – there is no disrespect and no bad feelings between me and the players or the coaching staff. I probably just didn’t have a good enough 10 days with them, so I didn’t press them.
“I probably wasn’t better than any of the strikers they had there. It’s not all about adding more strikers, but bringing something different to a team.
“I just said thank you very much for the opportunity of me training with an English Premier League side and I went back home.”
Kamara does not regard tomorrow as a chance to show Stoke they made a mistake.
“I wish I could say that, but no. There is no bad blood, no disrespect to the coaching staff there,” he said. “Everybody sees something different every day. Before I had my fiancé somebody else was with my fiancé, and didn’t like her. He left her and I got her and I think she’s the best woman ever, so that’s just what happens.”
But scoring tomorrow still has its appeal: “It would be storybook – it definitely would be good for me, just going there and saying I’m part of a team, part of the league and getting to play against some of the guys I trained with.
“I still speak to most of the guys there. Asmir Begovic is one of my good friends and we talk all the time, and so is Kenwyne Jones so when you get to play against some of your friends it’s always good.”
Kamara can count himself a shade unlucky not to have more than one goal to his name for the Canaries. Three times against Reading last week he was denied by goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, and his header at Sunderland last month was goalbound before Wes Hoolahan applied the finishing touch.
“The one Wes stole from me, it was St Patrick’s Day and he is the Irishman in the team so I was definitely not mad as long as I got to do the Irish jig with him! That was perfect for me,” he said.
“My early career was about scoring goals, a lot of goals, but right now if I can make an impact in my team, getting points from games, I can go home and be really happy about it. It’s better for me than scoring five goals and not getting anything from it.”
The immediate future for Kamara is still uncertain, with City manager Chris Hughton unwilling to reveal which way he is thinking over a possible permanent deal, and the player keeping his options open.
“If it’s something that can be helpful for the team and me and my family, it’s something I won’t be opposed to but at the moment it’s definitely just a case of me being focused and enjoying the games I’ve played so far, finishing the next two and hopefully helping the team to stay in the top league – that’s the first goal,” said Kamara.
Hughton would not enlighten reporters any further, saying: “He is legally with us for the next two games and we have to make a decision on whether to make that a longer period.
“He’s been very good on and off the pitch. When you bring in someone from overseas you are never quite sure but you have to back your judgment and he has settled in very quickly.”