KC Stadium battle for golden gladiators

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries boss Peter Grant takes his faltering team to Hull this afternoon extolling the virtues of football's golden gladiators. In one corner at the KC Stadium is City's 38-year-old Dion Dublin. In the other, Dean Windass, exactly three weeks his senior.

CHRIS LAKEY

Canaries boss Peter Grant takes his faltering team to Hull this afternoon extolling the virtues of football's golden gladiators.

In one corner at the KC Stadium is City's 38-year-old Dion Dublin. In the other, Dean Windass, exactly three weeks his senior.

Both have one thing in common - in the twilight of their careers they have become essential to their team's ambitions.


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Dublin's availability after a week in which he has carried an ankle knock is vital to a team which is desperate to heal the self-inflicted wounds of Colchester last week.

Windass, with seven goals in nine starts after returning to his hometown team on loan, is the key to their survival in the Championship. Since signing, Windass ranks in the top 25 players in the division's Actim Index ratings.

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Whatever happens today, both will leave football with a legacy which Grant believes is the perfect example for the game's young players to follow.

“People compare them because of their ages, but they are different types of players obviously,” said Grant. “People talk about Dion, Dean, Teddy Sheringham - people ask what keeps them going? Is it the way they look after themselves? It's nothing to do with that, it is the enthusiasm that they have for the game.

“Sometimes adversity early in their career can be the thing - it can be like Dion's leg break at Manchester United. It says, 'I want to enjoy it every time I pull on my jersey, I want it to last for ever more'.

“You look at them and I want players at 14, 15, 16 to have that enthusiasm, because if they have that enthusiasm and put ability to that they always have a chance, you always have massive chance because enthusiasm for the game and attitude towards the game is 90pc of it - ability is 10pc.”

Grant knows all about the fiery Windass - he felt the full force of his size 10s when the then Bradford player turned out at Reading, where Grant was player-coach.

“I have seen him coming and because we are good old friends I have passed the ball and he has caught me,” laughed Grant. “But you never let him know until after the game - he didn't know he had given me six (stitches) because I wasn't lying down that's for sure. He was allowed that because he knew the next time I'd get him.”

And did he? “Yes, for sure.

“He was a tough cookie but tough in respect that he loves the game, he likes to play the game. Great credit to him at his age. But that is no surprise, he has always had that knack and ability. He played with that great enthusiasm and that is a massive part of the game.”

Grant may have to wait until this morning to make a decision on Dublin, who suffered an ankle knock early on last week but managed to last to the bitter end of a 3-0 defeat the manager described as embarrassing.

Had City performed better, Dublin could well have made way for a record-breaking appearance by 16-year-old Kris Renton - they didn't and Grant admitted he “got it wrong” as far as changes were concerned.

“I will take full responsibility because at half-time even thought it was 0-0 I should have changed it, I should have made the decision,” he said. “I had a decision in my mind. I was going to change it and I didn't do it and that was probably the first time I have done that. I felt I should have changed it and I didn't.”

The initial signs of recovery as far as the players' response is concerned, are good, said Grant.

“I have never had a problem with them in training since day one, the training has been excellent,” he said. “That was the big disappointment, because they were flying last week.”

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