Canaries aware of Bale free-kick threat
Norwich City will be fully aware of the dangers that free-kicks within shooting distance of Tony Warner's goal having had one taste of Gareth Bale's shooting power already this season.
By CHRIS LAKEY
Norwich City will be fully aware of the dangers that free-kicks within shooting distance of Tony Warner's goal tomorrow having had one taste of Gareth Bale's shooting power already this season.
The highly-rated teenager scored the equaliser in Saints' 2-1 win over City at St Mary's back in December.
And his exploits this season have impressed City boss Peter Grant, as well as his Wales international team-mate Robert Earnshaw.
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“He is a wonderful talent, there is no doubt about that,” said Grant. “He is an exceptional player, he plays with great freedom.
“You can see what good practise does. It's not by luck he scores all those free kicks and gets the delivery in he does - he works very, very hard on it by all accounts, in his training. He practises very well and you can see that.
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“You know what this league is like at times - it is very, very tight and set-plays have been massive for Southampton at certain times - I think he scored three or four times on the bounce earlier this season and for a left-back that is quite incredible. He has got that talent.”
Earnshaw has seen it as close quarters, following Bale's introduction to John Toshack's Wales set-up almost a year ago as a 16-year-old.
“He's very exciting,” said the City hit-man. “I have trained with him and played with him and he's very good, he is almost a left winger.
“He has so much quality, his left foot is brilliant for his age. I saw him come into the Wales squad last year when he was 16 and you thought then that he was ready, he could hold himself then.
“I think he has done well this season, but it is over the next two years, it's where he goes then. You can come in and do really well and maybe fade off, it is about keeping that going. People like Wayne Rooney, they came in and did that and kept going, but I think he can do it. He has the potential to do it, he has a bright future.”
The bad news for City is that Bale could make a shock return for Saints this afternoon, having made a quick recovery from a calf injury which it was feared would rule him out for the rest of the season.
Grant is also impressed with the Saints strike force of Grzegorz Rasiak and Kenwyne Jones.
“Rasiak is still up there in the goalscoring charts, and the boy Kenwyne Jones, who we had at West Ham for a while, has been exceptional for them,” he said.