Cup Canaries show true colours after Huckerby's doubts

WENESDAY will be bidding to force Norwich to take a backward step at Carrow Road tomorrow.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 27th September 2007, 8:47 am
Updated Friday, 28th September 2007, 11:08 am

The Canaries were rated as unlucky to lose to a last-minute goal at Manchester City on Tuesday and are said to have given a much-improved performance.

Manager Peter Grant saw it as progress after he and forward Darren Huckerby had harsh words about the team's display at Wolves last Saturday which resulted in a 2-0 defeat and added to the Canaries' Championship worries.

Huckerby said that the squad is the weakest in his time at the club; Grant that the display at Molneux was the worst of his career in coaching and management.

Then a makeshift Norwich side, hit by injuries and suspensions and fielding two youngsters, ran a weakened Manchester City team close in a 1-0 exit from the Carling Cup.

Now Wednesday may be wondering which Norwich team will turn up tomorrow - the good or the bad.

But the Owls have got to believe that it could be a decent time for them to return to a stadium where they won 2-1 last season and 1-0 the season before that.

Four defeats in the last five Championship games appear to have put Grant under pressure.

They have also put his team fifth from bottom, and only four points above the Owls.

So the Canaries find themselves in much the same position as Wednesday were in last Saturday: facing a big home game and needing a win.

Grant has problems at centre half, with Dion Dublin and Jason Shackell still suspended for red cards against Wolves and Charlton respectively, and Gary Doherty is doubtful after struggling with a groin injury at Man City.

The Norwich manager is believed to have been exploring the loan market.

Danger man Huckerby is rated as a doubt after missing the cup tie with an ankle problem suffered in training, and it is not clear whether or not regular left-back Adam Drury will be fit after missing two games with a back injury.

French midfielder Julien Brellier is available after serving a one-match ban - he and Shackell were both dismissed at Molineux.

Young midfield players Michael Spillane and Rossi Jarvis made their first starts of the season at Man City.

Grant insists: "The most important game for us is Sheffield Wednesday. I think we're going into that in good spirit because of the performance at Manchester City. It was excellent.

"It was the complete opposite to last weekend.

"We showed a bit of character, with the fact that we lost more players before the game. For the young players to come in and play as they did was very pleasing.

The last time Wednesday were in East Anglia - for the Ipswich game in August - Huckerby was making news there for slamming the sale of Dixon Etuhu

Huckerby did not mince his words in the wake of last week's Wolves game, criticising Shackell and Brellier for "ridiculous" red cards, mourning the departures of midfield pair Etuhu and Youssef Safri, and describing the club's situation as "quite scary".

He said: "The fact of the matter is, we haven't been good enough all season.

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Jagielka praises revitalised Everton strikeforce.

“We miss Dickson, we miss Saf, it’s plain to see.

“We’re not playing well. Since I’ve been here, this is probably the weakest we’ve looked, so it’s quite scary, to be honest.

“Wolves were on top all the way through.”

Grant pulled no punches, either.

“It was very poor afternoon, to say the least, from start to finish,” he said.

“It was as tough an afternoon as you will probably get.

“I have been on the coaching side about six or seven years now and it is probably as bad a performance as I have seen from any team I have been involved with.

“It’s tough when you’ve not got the amount of players and the amount of quality you want. But the boys we have here are more than capable of performing much, much better than they have done.”

Wednesday will be bidding to avoid being the victims of a Norwich revival.