New City captain raring to go

CHRIS LAKEY Jason Shackell says City's goal-shy defenders have to get their priorities right this season - and that means clean sheets come before goal-scoring headlines.

CHRIS LAKEY

Jason Shackell says City's goal-shy defenders have to get their priorities right this season - and that means clean sheets come before goal-scoring headlines.

The new Canaries skipper has just three goals to his name since making his debut near the end of the 2003-03 season- all of them coming last season.

Fellow central defender Gary Doherty has the same tally from three seasons at the club and while Shackell admits it is an issue that needs addressing, there are clearly bigger fish to fry.

“We need to keep clean sheets and if we are keeping clean sheets we'll be happy,” said Shackell. “Of course you expect a few goals from your centre halves and your full-backs, that is something we have got to add to our game.

“We have to get more goals between me and Doc and obviously Dion scores his goals. If Adam (Drury) and Jon (Otsemobor) can contribute, then all the better - but if we keep clean sheets we will be happy to be honest.”

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Shackell believes City can silence a few critics this season.

“A few of the boys have been reading how we will be 16th or 15th, but that is not a problem to us,” he said. “Being the slight underdogs might be an advantage and we are quietly optimistic this season - we just want to get off to a good start at Preston.

“There is a bit of pressure - we have to go to Preston looking to get the three points. Everybody wants to get off to a good start, they will be looking to do the same.

“Things are going well, we have prepared well and we are all looking forward to it. I think all the boys are very optimistic, we have a good squad together, most people are fit bar one or two so we are looking forward to it and think we can do well.

“Year on year the Championship is getting stronger and stronger - the three teams that have come down are all going to be very strong, then you have a good eight to 10, even 12 who could all hit the play-offs. There is no easy game, every game is going to be tough and we have to make sure we are fully focussed on the first one to the last one.”

Shackell will lead a team out for a senior game for the first time since he was named skipper - and admits the thrill of being first out of the tunnel is the biggest of all.

“I really love leading out the team, I like having that little bit of added responsibility to go out there,” he said. “You want to go out there and do you own job well and help others.

“Hopefully I will rise to the challenge - I have to improve, I have a lot of learning to do.

“I have to make sure first and foremost that my game is right and once it's right hopefully I can take on board the captaincy by helping others and maybe bossing one or two about - it's not a bad thing.”