Fozzy gives Safri some dead ball competition

CHRIS LAKEY Mark Fotheringham believes a budding rivalry with Youssef Safri can reap handsome rewards for Norwich City's tall guys.


Mark Fotheringham believes a budding rivalry with Youssef Safri can reap handsome rewards for Norwich City's tall guys.

Free-kicks around the opposition penalty area have long been Safri's private domain, but Fotheringham's recent arrival has changed all that - as City fans saw at Chelsea last weekend when the Moroccan lined up for a late shot on goal but was over-ruled by manager Peter Grant in favour of the Scot.

Fotheringham's effort was saved by Petr Cech, but that and the way he set up Jason Shackell for City's goal at Preston illustrated that there is more than one kid on the block when it comes to free-kicks.

But Fotheringham insists that competition is healthy - and that the likes of Shackell, Dion Dublin and Gary Doherty can all benefit.

"I have been impressed by Saf's delivery into the box and I think we have been unfortunate that we have not really got any goals from it," he said.

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"I think we have a good variety now - it is whoever is feeling best on the day and who is willing to step up.

"I am always confident to go up and take them, so if I feel good on the day I am sure there will be more arguments over the ball. It is good. That's what you want, everybody wanting the ball and being up for a challenge to beat the keeper.

"I think Simon Lappin has good set-piece delivery as well, it is just whoever feels confident at the time will take them."

With Safri absent in midweek, Fotheringham took over corner kick duties as well, and it is the heart of the penalty area where he believes City ought to benefit most.

"I think set-pieces are a really important part of football nowadays and if you get good delivery to the box we have great headers of the ball in big Dion, Shacks and Doherty as well," he said.

"If we can get the correct delivery into them I am sure we will get goals."

Shackell's header at Preston was his first senior goal - but Fotheringham said credit should go to manager Peter Grant.

"The gaffer told us exactly where to deliver the ball," he said. "We work on these things all week and it is really pleasing when it comes off.

"That was Shacks' first goal but it is quite surprising considering how well he can attack the ball. He is a very good header of the ball, I have been very impressed with him since I came down.

"We have got good height with Dion and Doherty as well so hopefully we can score a lot more goals from set-pieces.

"It is all about the person attacking the ball as well - the delivery is important, but you have got to be brave and get in there and make it happen."

While Fotheringham went close against Chelsea, he's quite happy to save his best for tomorrow's visitors Coventry City.

"It would have been nice to score against them, but I think Cech is a world class keeper and he read it pretty early, but I am sure there will be other chances to play against teams like that," he said.

"It would be even better against Coventry because it's a league game and if we get three points that's the most important thing, just to get the points and try and get up this table.

"I think our performances have been good, we've just been unlucky that we are not taking anything from the game.

"I think we have to be positive because we are playing the right way. The fans can see that we're trying to get the ball down and pass it. We are creating lots of good chances, but we are just lacking that killer touch.

"It is not just the strikers, it's midfielders and defenders as well, everybody can score goals.

"If you get into that position you have just got to believe you are going to finish and I think that is what we have been lacking a little bit.

"But the performances have been superb, we just have to keep up the good work."

The Canaries need to the points to avoid getting dragged closer to the relegation zone, but Fotheringham insists the players are not feeling any added pressure.

"We are quite a close-knit group and I think the players are still going into the games really confident," he said.

"We know what we have to do and we are just setting out our stall to get about the team and put in a good performance and hopefully take the three points.

"But we have just been unlucky, we just have to keep battling away and I am sure the results will follow."