It's war - Roeder

CHRIS LAKEY David prepares to meet Goliath tonight as Glenn Roeder orders his battle-weary gladiators “to go to war” for the second time in three days.City have already beaten back the first incursion, by the old enemy on Sunday, and now, with the battle cries of 24,000 rejuvenated fans behind them, march out to face Championship leaders Watford, who are still reeling from a surprise onslaught of their own at the weekend.

CHRIS LAKEY

David prepares to meet Goliath tonight as Glenn Roeder orders his battle-weary gladiators “to go to war” for the second time in three days.

City have already beaten back the first incursion, by the old enemy on Sunday, and now, with the battle cries of 24,000 rejuvenated fans behind them, march out to face Championship leaders Watford, who are still reeling from a surprise onslaught of their own at the weekend.

Two of City's key warriors have been ruled out of the battle, the injured Dion Dublin joining suspended Darren Huckerby on the sidelines.

That could prompt Roeder to turn to the imposing presence of warhorse John Hartson, who did so much to turn the derby clash in City's favour on Sunday, in what could be a heavyweight clash of the titans against Watford's giant defender Danny Shittu.

The odds are once again stacked against City, just as they were against Ipswich: bottom of the table, 23 points behind Watford and without a win in nine league games.

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But seemingly invincible Watford, who had won five games in a row under City old boy Aidy Boothroyd, are reeling after a shock 3-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion.

It's bottom against top - and as City proved on Sunday when they recovered from 2-0 down to earn a well-deserved draw, anything could happen, especially in front of a Carrow Road crowd that has suddenly been given something to cheer about.

The adrenaline is still coursing through the veins after a performance which got Roeder's managerial reign off to a flying, if not winning, start.

The challenges don't come any bigger than Watford, but Roeder insists City are capable of repeating their Sunday best.

“I don't see why they can't,” he said. “They have to. I have never believed in the word can't.

“Can't means must. If people say we can't put in another performance like that - we must do. We do have to play as well as we did yesterday to beat Watford.”

Assistant Lee Clark echoed his manager's sentiments.

“They have set their own standards now, myself and Glenn haven't set them,” said Clark. “We have asked them to do something. They have gone out and performed, so that's the standard, that's the least they have got to achieve now. We are looking for improvement on that. But that is the least we expect now.”

Dublin's absence is a blow.

“We have got to go to war with what we've got and Dion won't be one of those, unfortunately,” said Roeder, who refused to take any chances with the 38-year-old on Sunday, withdrawing him halfway through the derby when he complained of a tight hamstring.

“We couldn't take a chance at half-time. He was prepared to go out for another 10 minutes but prepared to go out for 10 more minutes is telling you he is not going to last, he is going to break down and be out for longer.

“He had done so well in the first half for us and he is so important for the team this year, with all his experience and his general demeanour, his attitude around the place, that if it means missing him for a couple of games we shrug our shoulders and accept that rather than lose him for anything up to six, seven, eight weeks even if he had ripped his hamstring, which he would have done had we sent him out.”

Roeder will be heartened by Watford's weekend setback.

“They are deservedly top of the table,” he said. “They are very well equipped for this division after coming down.

“I was flabbergasted they got beat at home on Saturday, shocked. That was a huge surprise to me to see them lose to West Brom - it just shows you they are beatable.”

Boothroyd, a former Canaries Academy coach, is assisted by Martin Hunter, who jumped the Carrow Road ship in July and works alongside former City defender and still a crowd favourite, Malky Mackay.