What a difference a Carling makes

Manager Peter Grant was determined to look for the positives after yet another Norwich City cup run came to an end at the hands of lower league opposition.

Manager Peter Grant was determined to look for the positives after yet another Norwich City cup run came to an end at the hands of lower league opposition.

But he may be faced with more bad news than good this morning after the 3-2 spot kick defeat, with top scorer Robert Earnshaw looking likely to be unfit to play against Stoke on Saturday as the Canaries return to the Potteries.

He may also be talking to Youssef Safri after the Moroccan was substituted little more than half an hour in to the game in a tactical switch which left the Moroccan looking far from impressed as he was replaced by youngster Robert Eagle.

However, after declared he was “gutted” and classing the defeat as a “major negative”, Grant showed his delight at another clean sheet and highlighted the performance of Eagle.

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As he surveyed the damage after 120 minutes of captivating action and a dreaded penalty shoot out, Grant was determined to take positives back to Carrow Road from Vale Park.

“We've put a lot into the game but great credit to Port Vale,” he said.

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“First half they made us change it. They started better than us so we had to change the game quickly and unfortunately had to sacrifice one of the players which I don't like doing.

“But that's football you've got to get on with it. We've got to take the positives as well. Some young boys came on and did very well. Young Eagle's done smashing. I'm delighted with him. Yet again another clean sheet so we've got to take some positives from it, but obviously I'm gutted to be out of the cup.

“I thought in the first half we gave the ball away so many times, so cheaply and it was so frustrating. But in the second half we got better at it and made them change a little bit. But in saying that, good luck to them and I hope they go on and do well.”

But Grant revealed Earnshaw would be struggling to face Stoke after picking up a rib injury.

“Robert Earnshaw had to come off with a knock,” he said. “He struggling obviously for the weekend but that's life and that's a chance for somebody else.”

Meanwhile, he unveiled a ruthless streak by taking off Safri just 35 minutes into the game and warned other City stars he would be prepared to do it again if needs be.

“I thought we were very poor in that period and kept giving the ball away cheaply,” Grant said. “And I felt because we kept giving the ball away and turning the ball over I had to change it. He (Safri) was sitting too deep in the game and that was down to general play in the team so I felt putting two central midfield players in and moving Ryan Jarvis in behind would cause them more problems and it did. We started passing a little bit better, especially second half.

“The boys are getting used to me and the demands I'm putting on them. So they've got to accept that.

“There's things I've got to change quickly and unfortunately I've had to sacrifice one of the players tonight because it was not going to work well. I've no problems doing that whether it's the first minute of the last minute, I'll change it, if I don't think it's going right.”

One bright spark in the evening was the performance Eagle who played 95 minutes although he missed a spot kick in the shoot out along with Carl Robinson and Jason Shackell.

“Young Robert came on and did ever so well. Also he showed bottle to come up and take a penalty kick, the same with Shack (Jason Shackell), both young boys. I've been in that pressure situation myself and it's not easy.

“His general play in the game was excellent. He got great crosses in, showed a willingness to get forward and showed a willingness to get back in.

As I say the back four again, we know we can get better, but a clean sheet for them and Gallacher so that's important for us. So there's some positives out of it but the bottom line is we're out of the cup and that's always very disappointing.”

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