Doherty scoops another award

Gary Doherty has bounced back from an unhappy start to the campaign to land the third Eastern Daily Press Norwich City player of the season award.

Gary Doherty has bounced back from an unhappy start to the campaign to land the third Eastern Daily Press Norwich City player of the season award.

The Republic of Ireland international was dropped after a poor showing in the opening day draw with Coventry and found himself on the bench for six weeks before finally winning his place back in the starting line-up.

Doherty had much to prove to fans and manager alike when he returned to action in the East Anglian derby on September 18 but he did all that was asked of him at Portman Road - and then went from strength to strength to become an absolute rock at the heart of the Norwich defence.

He played in every game after that and shone in the vast majority of the them, with our statistics indicating that he was the most consistent City performer over the course of what was an extremely disappointing season.

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Football writers Chris Lakey and Chris Wise gave City players marks out of 10 for each game they played and the big centre half averaged a highly creditable 6.92 - just below the seven that signifies a good performance.

Darren Huckerby won the two previous EDP awards with an average of well over seven - but bearing in mind the circumstances this term it was an excellent effort on the part of Doherty, who was never headed in the ratings after first claiming top spot in November.

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His nearest challenger was Youssef Safri who put in a string of solid performances in the heart of City's midfield over the first half of the season to claim a mark of 6.80.

The Moroccan international's average slipped after his return from African Cup of Nations duty in Egypt, with injuries hardly helping his cause. But, at his best, he remained a key player for Norwich and would surely have challenged for top spot had he been fully fit - and fully available - all season.

The top three was completed by Huckerby, who may have failed to scale the scintillating heights of the two previous seasons, but still turned in enough eye-catching performances to finish on 6.62, well clear of the next two on our list, Craig Fleming (6.42) and the gone but not forgotten Dean Ashton (6.40).

The award was only open to players who had made at least 20 appearances for the club, so the likes of keeper Paul Gallacher and on-loan Spurs defender Calum Davenport did not qualify.

Gallacher came in for the injured Robert Green at the end of the season and turned in four top quality displays to average an excellent 7.25 while Davenport rarely had a bad game during his three months at Carrow Road and left with a rating of 6.60.

To mark his achievement Doherty received a framed photograph of himself in action - taken by the EDP's James Bass - from Chris Wise.

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