Hucks ready to get City buzzing again

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries talisman Darren Huckerby says he is fit and ready to help kick-start Norwich City's Championship campaign - and set Carrow Road buzzing again.


Canaries talisman Darren Huckerby says he is fit and ready to help kick-start Norwich City's Championship campaign - and set Carrow Road buzzing again.

Huckerby has been something of a frustrated spectator this season, his only contribution to the Championship campaign to date being a brief cameo appearance in the home defeat by Cardiff a fortnight ago.

But a first start since the last game of last season looks likely this afternoon when City take on Crystal Palace - and the fans' favourite is desperate to start making up for lost time.

“It is a massive game on Saturday and we have got to win, simple as that,” said Huckerby. “If we want to do anything this season we can't lose these games at home, simple as that. We have to carry on and hopefully start a run and get points we should be getting.”

City's home record doesn't compare at all favourably with the one Huckerby helped create in the 2003-04 promotion season when only two teams left Carrow Road with all three points.

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In the following three campaigns, City lost a total of 22 home games, but Huckerby believes it is possible to avoid repeats this season.

“Let's hope so - we have got to start putting in performances,” he said. “We haven't played as well as we can do this season, it's obvious, and whoever is playing it is time to get their fingers out. It's easier said than done, but we have got to start picking up points.

“We are looking to win every game, it doesn't matter who it is this week, we have got to put right what happened last game.

We need to put a performance on, we need to get the place buzzing again, and it's not happening at the minute. Hopefully we can change that.”

City have had a fortnight to stew over the Cardiff result, which saw them drop to 20th in the table - a break Huckerby says came at the wrong time.

“I think the only way you can get over a result like that is go and put it right and we have a big chance to do that on Saturday,” he said. “The break probably didn't do us any good after the last game, but it probably gives (Jason) Shackell a chance to get a little bit fitter, hopefully everyone will be fit to play.”

While City's early-season hopes have been hit by injuries and illness, it has been the absence of Huckerby with a groin problem that has arguably been the hardest for manager Peter Grant to overcome. But a full 120 minutes plus a successful penalty in the Carling Cup shoot-out victory at Rochdale and then his appearance against Cardiff two weeks ago suggests the flying winger could start today.

“I am ready to play,” he said. “It has been a tough three months really, but hopefully now I can get a few games under my belt and hopefully we can start winning some games.

“I was ready to play last game - obviously it has been better because I have trained more and I have trained with the lads more, but I want to play every game. If the manager had said to me last time do I want to play I would have said yes.”

Grant has had to resist the temptation to bring Huckerby back prematurely, but with Palace kicking off a run of six games in two and a half weeks, City's Player of the Season is certain to have another big influence on the team's fortunes.

“We have got to start picking up points,” he said. “Cup games will be different but especially the league games, we have to go away and get good results.”

Palace came to Carrow Road a year ago tomorrow and snatched all three points with a goal in the final minute - by ex-Ipswich striker Shefki Kuqi. It was a result which helped hasten the demise of former boss Nigel Worthington and extended a poor run against the south London side, who haven't lost at Carrow Road in their last three visits, since a Huckerby penalty set up a 2-1 victory in September, 2003.

“They (Palace) have got some good players,” said Huckerby. “I have known Dicky (Paul Dickov) a long time now, he works hard and he causes defences a lot of trouble so hopefully we can keep him quiet for the whole game.”

Quiet is not what Huckerby wants from the crowd.

“We just want them to support the team,” he said. “We haven't played as well as we can do, that's obvious, but in saying that we haven't had our strongest team out yet. Hopefully, when everyone is fit we should be getting to where we want to be.”