Colin and Etuhu need to maintain levels
CHRIS LAKEY Nigel Worthington believes his judgment will be vindicated after seeing two of last season's under-achievers finally come good at the weekend.
Nigel Worthington believes his judgment will be vindicated after seeing two of last season's under-achievers finally come good at the weekend.
Jurgen Colin and Dickson Etuhu were impressive performers at Elland Road and Worthington believes much of it boils down to the simple solution - they've finally settled in.
Their situations differ in that Colin was brought to Carrow Road from PSV Eindhoven a year ago as an unknown, while Etuhu had experience at Manchester City and Preston.
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Colin produced arguably his best performance in a City shirt at Leeds on Saturday and appears to have bragging rights over the right-back position.
The challenge now is to meet Worthington's demands for the rest of the campaign.
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"Fitness is one thing, acclimatising to English football is number two and time to settle into a new culture is number three, and that is part of players coming from another country to this scenario, that you have got to give them time," said Worthington
"We know Jurgen is a good player, he didn't show his full potential last year but he's come on this year, I spoke to him at the end of last season, he knew what he had to do.
"He's come back in good shape, he has worked very hard pre-season, he is saying it's the hardest pre-season, the best he's ever felt and now he's put a marker down on Saturday, performance-wise, that he has got to carry on."
Etuhu came in six months later, around Christmas, when a loan period was turned into a permanent transfer, but until Saturday at Leeds, had showed only glimpses of the abilities that persuaded Worthington to part with £450,000.
"Dickson Etuhu came from Preston, he was very, very dejected, he had a tough time there," said Worthington.
"We brought him here because we know the ability that he possesses as a player. Again, time to settle in, get used to the environment, the training, the fitness and again he has put a marker down on Saturday.
"If he performs like that he will be a very valuable asset, as they all will be performing like they did on Saturday."
There's no reason why either shouldn't figure against Preston tonight, although Etuhu's role may be slightly different should the manager revert to 4-4-2 from the 4-3-3 he played at Elland Road.
Should that be the case, and assuming Darren Huckerby plays on the left and Lee Croft starts down the right, then one of either Etuhu, Youssef Safri and Carl Robinson will have make way.
Robert Earnshaw was the spearhead in attack at Leeds but could find either Leon McKenzie or Paul McVeigh alongside him tonight, again, depending on the formation.
Defensively, only a late injury will change the back four.
"I thought we were solid - goalkeeper, back four - we limited Leeds to very few chances," said Worthington.
"I thought middle three the shape was excellent and the three boys with their pace caused problems and created chances. On the day we didn't finish the job off."
There's still no Andy Hughes, who has a groin strain but is expected to be back in training by the end of the week at the latest, while Ian Henderson is out of contention after picking up a similar injury in training on Friday.
Goalkeeper Robert Green continues his recovery in training while defender Matthieu Louis-Jean is lacking match fitness. Rossi Jarvis is also unavailable with a thigh injury.