Martin in same class as Earnie - Grant

Norwich boss Peter Grant is adamant young starlet Chris Martin is in the same goalscoring class as Welsh predator Robert Earnshaw.

Norwich boss Peter Grant is adamant young starlet Chris Martin is in the same goalscoring class as Welsh predator Robert Earnshaw.

Martin targets a fifth consecutive goal in five games ahead of today's Championship trip to Earnshaw's old Cardiff stomping ground.

The teenager's recent scoring spree has helped soften the injury blow of losing goal machine Earnshaw - with the Welsh international revealing yesterday he is targeting an early-April comeback.

“Chrissy has taken on the mantle,” said Grant. “You've got to create chances to score goals and his team mates have done exceptionally well for him. He's been in the right place at the right time. Earnie would've been in the mid 20s to 30 goal mark by now with the way we've played lately.

“I know strikers get judged on goals by outsiders. I judge Chrissy on his general play. The goalscoring attributes are natural. You see the goals he scored at reserve and youth team level - that is part of his make up. He showed tremendous alertness to score against Derby, to create the space and get his shot away so early shows the confidence. The difference between a good striker is hoping to score and wanting to score.”

Grant admits the jury is still out on the combined potential of his lethal front duo ahead of Earnshaw's scheduled return to light training next week.

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“It's not about a pairing - you can never have enough good strikers available,” said Grant. “We don't even know if they can play together yet. Certain people might think that they will make ideal partners. It's not necessarily a dream pair - it depends who is available. Sometimes you keep the same system because it suits the individual up top. What I want is different types - small, strong, quick - to give us a better balance. It means we can change the team around depending on who we come up against and the way the opposition play.

“What I do know is Chrissy can play with different strikers or on his own up front. He doesn't need anyone talking him through.”

Grant is confident the youngster can handle the hostile surroundings of Ninian Park after passing his physical against Derby's muscular Darren Moore in midweek.

“It's all part of his learning experience,” said the City boss. “Moore was a very strong boy. You don't play next to someone like that. You have to make him think - get in areas of the pitch that can hurt him. He's a strong young lad - not just physically, but mentally. I've seen big guys who are weak as water and small ones who pack a punch.”

Grant insists his mature young striker possesses the nous to compliment undoubted talent.

“He takes things on board quickly,” said Grant. “You don't need to be on at him three, four, five times - he understands. There were a couple of times against Derby early on he got caught on his heels and I said he must be on his toes. It's about working out problems and using his brain. Sometimes he'll come up against big centre-backs where his movement will be better and other days he'll face smaller, pacy defenders. That's what he'll realise and he knows he'll have his ups and downs along the way.”