Summer signings help plug the gaps
CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant believes his summer recruitment drive has plugged the gaps that plagued City's progress last season.
Peter Grant believes his summer recruitment drive has plugged the gaps that plagued City's progress last season.
The Canaries boss had to endure months without key players as injuries took their toll - but he now believes he has the right mixture to ensure there is no repeat of last season's stop-start form.
Grant showed five players the door and watched as others - Robert Earnshaw, Dickson Etuhu and Youssef Safri - have moved on.
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But he has brought in seven others, plus one on loan, and says the rough edges have now been smoothed off.
"This year I feel the squad is stronger, it's a more rounded squad that we have," he said. "It is not as imbalanced. One or two injuries and you could be back to square one again and I am not going to take that chance."
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One of the best examples is in Grant's strikeforce, where he has three players fighting for two positions, and while the combination of Jamie Cureton and David Strihavka appeared to be the preferred choice, the manager now has a pleasant problem to solve thanks to the pre-season form of Chris Brown.
The former Sunderland man had to go off against Vitesse Arnhem on Friday with a broken nose - but this time it posed few problems.
"We didn't have Dion and last year if Chris Brown had come off we were looking at kids," he said. "This time Dave Strihavka comes on. That is what we feel is a wee bit more different - knowing that these guys are fighting for each others' positions.
"That is what we are trying to have and I think that was proved in certain substitutions we made, that you have like for like keeping the tempo up."
Midfielder Julien Brellier has also proved that Youssef Safri's quick exit to Southampton should cause few problems down the line for Grant.
"I think there is no doubt you can see his awareness, how he breaks things up and uses it simple and he doesn't take any chances," said Grant.
"He is one of these who if it drops in the final third and it is a defensive clearance he will clear it, he won't try to be clever.
"While most of the other boys like to go forward and break forward, he is more comfortable breaking things up and sniffing the danger out. I think he will do that very well for us once he is fully fit."
Brellier has played just twice in pre-season - 45 minutes at King's Lynn, where he picked up a thigh injury, plus an hour against Vitesse, where he picked up another knock, but Grant says he should be ready for the opener at Preston.