Brown ready to claim City starting role

CHRIS LAKEY Chris Brown has a golden opportunity to stake a claim for a starting place on day one of the Championship campaign.

CHRIS LAKEY

Chris Brown has a golden opportunity to stake a claim for a starting place on day one of the Championship campaign.

The Canaries striker is back to full fitness after an injury-plagued start to his Carrow Road career - but three goals in pre-season have put pressure on City's other strikers.

And while the assumption is that City boss Peter Grant will go with summer signings Jamie Cureton and David Strihavka up front, Brown - the pick of the strikers against West Ham on Tuesday - could be about to disrupt his plans.

"Chris Brown came on and gave us another problem with him playing ever so well," admitted Grant. "I am delighted for him because he has worked extremely hard to get the opportunity.

"He knows that the fact I bought Jamie and David in in that area of the field doesn't mean anything to me. The one that is playing best will be getting the shirt."

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Injury has limited Brown to just three league and three FA Cup games starts for City since a £325,000 move from Sunderland in January.

But he struck his first goal in a City shirt in the 12-0 demolition of Lowestoft, added another against Apeldoorn on the Dutch tour and made it three with an excellent

57th-minute header against West Ham on Tuesday after coming on as a half-time replacement for Strihavka.

"I thought it was really difficult for our front two, especially first half because we couldn't get the ball," said Grant. "West Ham were magnificent, and we allowed them to be magnificent to be fair. I felt in the second half we got closer to them and I think Browny has shown his quality and scored a fantastic goal, so a big plus there."

Grant has one more pre-season game to run the rule over his squad - against Vitesse Arnhem tomorrow night - before the first game of the season when he will order his team to reproduce the passion shown by the 22,000-plus crowd for the West Ham visit.

"It was unbelievable," said Grant. "I am not one to curry favour with supporters and pat them on the back, but it was absolutely incredible for a pre-season friendly.

"They have shown that passion and that is one thing I would like to match as a manager from the players - the passion and the commitment to play here. They pay good money to come and watch, they make a lot of sacrifices and the minimum I ask of the players is the same sacrifice - they have a great work ethic, the boys. I have no doubt we have a stronger squad when everybody is fully fit than I had last year and it has shown that.

"If we can make it competitive in certain positions on the pitch I think we become a better team for it."