Worthy happy to be in the hunt
CHRIS WISE Norwich City could move to within touching distance of the Championship's play-off zone tonight - but manager Nigel Worthington won't be getting carried away if his team come away from Burnley with all three points.
Norwich City could move to within touching distance of the Championship's play-off zone tonight - but manager Nigel Worthington won't be getting carried away if his team come away from Burnley with all three points.
If the Canaries could see off a home team who have just lost six games on the trot it would certainly leave the sides just above them in the table looking anxiously over their shoulders.
Having been written off as no-hopers in some quarters not so long ago, Worthington's side would suddenly find themselves just four points behind Preston, who currently hold the all-important sixth position, while Cardiff and Wolves would also be in firmly their sights.
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But that's only half of the story. If those sides went on to win their games in hand tomorrow then City would once again be well off the pace - indeed Preston would still have another fixture up their sleeve against bottom club Crewe next week - so it's easy to see why Worthington's feet were planted firmly on the ground as he looked ahead to a rare Friday night outing for his team.
"We are playing catch-up, that's for sure - but I think the pressure is on the top six or seven teams at this moment in time," he said.
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"It is an uphill task from where we are at at the moment, but the door is open. And it's a case of how long we can keep the door open for.
"As I have said before there are seven games to go and we will be taking them one at a time and just try to keep picking up the points. All we can do is our own job to the best of our ability. If we can do that then we can sit back and see what the other teams do.
"We have had 46 games to do it in, or we will have when we have played these next seven, and because of circumstances - injuries and so on - we have not always got the results we would have liked. But the season is not over yet."
The Canaries have hauled themselves back into contention by putting together an excellent run of results since hitting rock bottom in the East Anglian derby on February 5. They have responded to that setback by winning four and drawing two of their next seven games, with last Saturday's thrilling 2-1 victory over second-placed Sheffield United putting them in good heart for a clash with the current whipping boys of the Championship.
When Burnley beat Stoke 1-0 at Turf Moor on Boxing Day they moved up to the heady heights of fifth in the table but since then they have lost 10 out of 13, while scoring just four goals. On the face of it the televised clash looks like an away banker, but that's not quite the way Worthington sees it.
"There has been a feel-good factor here in recent weeks," he said. "There's brightness, there's confidence, smiley faces. I think that comes from people performing well and getting the results.
"The players will be in good heart for the Burnley game - but there is no way they will be taking the opposition lightly.
"I know their manager Steve Cotterill and I know some of the players there - and things can turn around at any time.
"We have got to go and do what we're good at - and focus and concentrate on that.
"I am looking for the sort of performance we turned in at Leeds, Sheffield United, Hull - we have got to be solid."
That may be the case, but City will surely be looking to put a jittery Burnley defence under pressure from minute one, with Robert Earnshaw and Leon McKenzie leading the way after scoring the goals that blunted the Blades last weekend.
Worthington was delighted with their contributions against Sheffield United - and will be clearly looking for more of the same on away territory.
"Building up a partnership takes a little bit of time - but the more they work together the more that will come," he said.
"It's nice for Earnie that he scored the goal and it's nice for us too. It was a great goal. Many a player would have switched off when they saw the defender jumping but Earnie kept playing, he stayed alive and his technique has helped him to get a goal. It was in the net before the keeper could move.
"It gives him a shot in the arm. But getting the results is the prime concern - that's what everybody here is working towards.
"As for Leon, it just good to have him back. I think what he brings with him is great enthusiasm, a spark, a willingness to work. I think that can spread throughout the team."