Foxes pay penalty for Earnie's return

Robert Earnshaw hailed one of the “best goals of his career” as his three-month injury nightmare came to a surprising end at the weekend.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Robert Earnshaw hailed one of the “best goals of his career” as his three-month injury nightmare came to a surprising end at the weekend.

Earnshaw's spot-kick set City on the way to a 2-1 win against a Leicester City side now managed by Nigel Worthington, the man who revived Earnshaw's career when he brought him to Carrow Road 16 months ago.

Ironically, Earnshaw was named on the bench only because of Peter Grant's chronic selection problems on a day which saw 16-year-old Kris Renton become the youngest player to pull on a Norwich City shirt for a senior game.

“We just decided on Thursday after training really,” said Earnshaw. “It was touch and go whether it would be this week or at Burnley (tomorrow) and we just wanted to keep it quiet and see how it went.”

The Canaries hitman had been on the pitch only five minutes when he slotted home a penalty before celebrating his 18th league goal of the season with his trademark somersault.

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It was a familiar routine, but one which City fans thought they wouldn't see again this season after the Welshman ripped a groin muscle during a training session in January.

The relief on both sides was clear.

“Brilliant, what a great feeling,” said Earnshaw. “It was a good day. We only decided late for me to be involved today so it was nice to come on and get the goal.

“I was just so happy to get the chance. It is probably one of the most important goals of my career - I was that happy, because it has been a tough three months just being in the gym and working hard and working on my own, doing the strength work all the time for three months.

“It's great to be back.

“I was frustrated - you get an injury and it's the last thing you want. You want to be playing - everybody else is playing football and training every day and you are just having to do other things and you can't be involved. The first four weeks I couldn't even walk properly, I was on crutches for the first three weeks. I just wanted to be out there and then today it is a great feeling - we're back to form and to score a goal.”

Grant's injury problems meant Academy duo Patrick Bexfield and Bally Smart were included in the travelling party to The Walkers Stadium - and that Earnshaw's comeback was brought forward to cope.

“I am virtually there,” he said. “Obviously I need two or three games to get back to normal, but that's all we have got until the end of the season so we are just going to have to deal with it and I will see what the manager says really about bodies for Burnley and next weekend. We'll take it day by day.”

Earnshaw's goal came after Norwich old boy Darren Kenton put Leicester ahead with less than a minute on the clock - and three minutes before a Gareth McAuley own goal clinched a deserved win for the Canaries against a side who are just two points above the relegation zone.

It's a precarious position cost Rob Kelly his job last Wednesday, with Worthington brought in on a caretaker basis, six months after he was sacked as Norwich manager - and Earnshaw is hopeful he will keep them up.

“I spoke to him just before the game as we were going out and wished him all the best because he did well for Norwich,” he said. “He is a great guy, a really good guy. He signed me, but the relationship we had was great and I have high things to say about him. Good luck to him because he loves football and he loves being out there managing and that.”