City look to climb out of bottom three

The only way is up for Norwich City as they prepare for a 90-minute battle of strength in Stoke's Land of the Giants this afternoon which could see them climb out of the relegation zone for the first time in almost two months.

By CHRIS LAKEY

The only way is up for Norwich City as they prepare for a 90-minute battle of strength in Stoke's Land of the Giants this afternoon which could see them climb out of the relegation zone for the first time in almost two months.

The Canaries come up against one of the Championship's biggest and most imposing sides knowing that if they can overcome the anticipated aerial onslaught, the road to recovery could be in sight.

“We will know how much our players want it in the opening 15 minutes when the ball is being bombed in from all angles,” said City boss Glenn Roeder.

The Canaries are going for their third win in a row - a feat which hasn't been achieved since December 2005 - and should other results go their way, Roeder's Revolution will well and truly have got off the ground.

But Roeder, who last week engineered an end to an 11-match winless run and in midweek plotted the first away win of the season, admits City will need brawn as well as brains against Tony Pulis' team.

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Stoke strikers Mamady Sidibe and Ricardo Fuller are 6ft 4ins and 6ft 3ins respectively and only two of Pulis' expected line-up are below six foot. That, plus the long-throw of Rory Delap, ensures City defenders Martin Taylor and Jason Shackell are in for a bruising afternoon.

“They are a very big team, very typical Tony Pulis,” said Roeder. “Tony has had a very good managerial career in the Championship and downwards, all the clubs he has managed replicate each other when you look at the sides.

“I don't think they have a player who is under six foot -it's long throws, get the ball in the penalty box as often as they can and as quickly as they can.

“We know we are going to have to handle that and if we handle that. It is going to be a battle that has to be won first - an aerial battle, and then a physical battle.

“If we can come out top side in the aerial challenges and the physical challenges then it will give us a great chance. That side of the game will be very much to the fore.”

Taylor is prepared for a busy afternoon.

“They are very good from set pieces so we will have to make sure we are switched on there,” he said. “Their style of play includes the big men.”

City's two wins in the space of four days have put the pressure on the teams above them this afternoon: Preston, above City on goal difference only, have a tough game at Wolves, QPR are at fellow strugglers Blackpool and Colchester travel to in-form Sheffield Wednesday. If Lady Luck is on City's side, Roeder's targets will look a lot easier to achieve.

“Because the start has been so poor it needs to be continually a good run right to the end of the season,” he said. “A couple of wins obviously helps greatly, but it doesn't solve the problem.

“I have found you need one good run to get you out of the bottom three and then you need another one to try and get away from the bottom three. That is why this situation can't be cured in a few weeks, or even a month - it will run right the way through the season.

“We need 14 points every 11 games to get to 51 points. That is what we know we have to do - the minimum target is 14 points and as I found out when I got 42 points at West Ham in the Premiership, there is no guarantee in life. Who knows? You might need more.”