Hucks fears big names will stay away

CHRIS LAKEY Darren Huckerby says Norwich City could find it increasingly difficult to attract top quality players to Carrow Road. The City winger hit the headlines in the summer when he spoke out over the departures of Dickson Etuhu and Robert Earnshaw to the Premier League after clauses in their contracts were triggered.

CHRIS LAKEY

Darren Huckerby says Norwich City could find it increasingly difficult to attract top quality players to Carrow Road.

The City winger hit the headlines in the summer when he spoke out over the departures of Dickson Etuhu and Robert Earnshaw to the Premier League after clauses in their contracts were triggered.

Youssef Safri soon followed after a simmering dispute with then manager Peter Grant finally boiled over, and Huckerby believes City - and Grant - have paid the price.

Huckerby, thought to be the highest paid player at the club, says City's current struggles are not the only reason that quality players think twice before heading east.

“Norwich is a club where it is always difficult to get players because of where it is in the country,” said Huckerby.

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“I wouldn't say they were one of the highest payers in the division. All these factors add together, especially now we are not as high as we would like to be. It is always difficult to attract players.”

Huckerby believes the loss of three key players has been an issue this season.

“I don't want to go back to it but I told you a long time ago that I thought we'd struggle if we sold our best players and I think you'll find that it's come back and it's right,” he said.

“My own opinion was players in important positions, i.e. two centre midfielders who have played most of our games, who go at the same time is going to make it difficult for any team.

“A lot of people made out I was being controversial and stuff but I wasn't, I was just telling the truth from my own point of view.

“I am not trying to help the old manager out, but I think it was very difficult for him to lose them at that time.”

Huckerby's frustrations have been tempered to some extent by the arrival this week of the experienced former Wales international John Hartson, on loan from West Bromwich Albion.

“He is definitely a presence,” Huckerby said. “He has been there and done it, he is a handful for anybody and hopefully if we get enough crosses into the box he is going to cause problems. He just gives us a different option, especially with Dion (Dublin) being injured. I won't say he is the kind of player we have been missing, but any player who adds a little bit of quality is needed.”

Huckerby admits to having had his own problems since the end of last season, but hopes they have been solved with an injection he had last week.

“I have had a lot of problems myself over the last three or four months with certain things, so it has been very difficult, but we did certain things last week that will hopefully make it a bit easier for me,” he said. “I have had a bit of hip problem which I can't really shake so hopefully in the next two or three weeks that will clear up.”

The 31-year-old is likely to feature as City seek to arrest their slide into the relegation zone after five league games without a win, or a goal - form which spelt the end for Grant, with Jim Duffy in caretaker charge.

“Just because the manager's changed it doesn't mean that everything is okay again,” he said. “We kind of let the manager down, we haven't played as well as we can do and that's usually what happens - the manager is the first one, he gets it.

“I kind of feel sorry for Peter, but there is nothing we can do. All we can do is try and get points on the board.

“We have tried a few different little things and hopefully they will work on Saturday.

“There is definitely a lot of uncertainty, but we have been in this situation before and it is just up to the lads to try and keep going and obviously the new manager will be installed shortly, hopefully.

“Things don't always work out how you want them so we are just going to be trying to work hard and hopefully get a few more people and get three points on Saturday.”

The changeover from Grant to Duffy - for at least two matches - has been a smooth one.

“It's been three days and it's not like Jim wasn't here before, so we know what Jim is like,” Huckerby added. “He is very passionate, just like Peter was, maybe a little bit more controlled, so we will see.”