Grant denies rift with Safri

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant has dispelled suggestions that a rift has broken out between him and popular midfielder Youssef Safri.


Peter Grant has dispelled suggestions that a rift has broken out between him and popular midfielder Youssef Safri.

The Moroccan yesterday said the lack of first team opportunities might force him to leave Carrow Road.

But while talk has been rife of a chasm between manager and player in recent weeks, Grant insisted yesterday that was a long way from the truth - and revealed exactly why Safri was not a regular starter.

“He is a terrific lad, and not one moment's problem,” said Grant yesterday. “Not one moment's problem has he caused us.

“I had a chat with him right at the start because obviously I need to know what everybody's feelings are because you hear stories before you come, about X, Y and Z how they feel and you have to make sure everybody's happy at the club.

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“He has been great, he trains really, really well.

“When he's played he's played decent in games - other games he's not done so well, but I can say that about everybody at the club.

“But as I said to him from day one, it wouldn't cause any problems with me whatever his feelings were before. It was up to him to make a clean start with whatever he wanted to do, and that's why I'm saying you can ask him what he feels like.”

When asked what the long-term situation was, Grant replied: “I think that is a question you maybe need to ask Saff. That is not really down to me. I think there were obviously situations, probably before I came. Maybe it's a situation you'd better ask Saff about.”

As far as Safri's first-team participation is concerned, it appears to boil down to tactics.

Grant has made no secret of his preference to play a 4-4-2 formation, although injury problems have, more often than not, forced him to play three in midfield and three strikers.

Safri plays a holding role in a 4-3-3 line-up, but it's Carl Robinson and Dickson Etuhu who get the nod when Grant pares the midfield down to two central figures.

“I think he is a very good footballer, a terrific passer of the ball,” said Grant. “I think he has got to play much higher up the field.

“Sometimes when we play in a three he is excellent, but hen you play with a two it's different.

“I have seen a lot of players like that - I can look at Mascherano at West Ham. Play in a two he looks half the player he is, play him in a three and he looks the best player probably in the Premiership.

“There are players like that. They like that little bit of time on the ball, but when they have got to go and stop the opposition playing in a two versus two they find that a little bit more difficult.

“But passing wise he's as good as you will get in the club.”