Huckerby - I would have played again
Michael BaileyDarren Huckerby admits he may have made one last stab at a comeback - had Norwich City not been storming away at the top of League One. Huckerby says his former club's superb form has helped him avoid a dilemma over whether to don his football boots one last time.Michael Bailey
Darren Huckerby admits he may have made one last stab at a comeback - had Norwich City not been storming away at the top of League One.
Huckerby says his former club's superb form has helped him avoid a dilemma over whether to don his football boots one last time.
City's one-time talismanic forward announced his retirement in September, after undergoing hip surgery that cut short time in the MLS with San Jose Earthquakes.
But now, living back in Norfolk and fully recovered from his operation, the 33-year-old is glad the Canaries are firing on all cylinders without him.
Huckerby said: 'To be honest with you, with the team doing so well it's made it easy for me.
'If the team was struggling then I would have for the wrong reasons probably tried to come back and play, and it's not what my body needed and not what the fans needed to be honest.
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'So I'm glad everything is going well and I don't have to worry about playing any more.'
Instead, Huckerby has taken to watching City in action from the stands - and he knows the league leaders face a tricky trip to Brighton's Withdean Stadium this weekend.
The Seagulls' temporary home has equally temporary seating, as well as an athletics track that leaves fans a good distance away from the action.
Huckerby, who played and scored for City in a 3-1 win at the Withdean in 2005, said: 'It is a difficult place to play. Hopefully the weather will be OK. If it's cold and windy around there it is quite open and it can be a difficult game, especially with the running track around it.
'But we've got a better team than most in this league so I don't see why we can't build on what we've done already.
'If we apply ourselves right then it's going to take a real big effort from the other teams to stop us.
'The last few games we haven't played as well as we can do and I think we came a cropper against Millwall, but the manager will slap them down now and get them back to concentrating on winning and building on the success they've had the last 16 games.
'It's been unbelievable, really, so if we can take that to the end of the season, I see no reason why we shouldn't go up as champions.'
Saturday will see City tasked with bouncing back from a League One defeat for the first time since mid-October, having embarked on a run of 16 games unbeaten and eight straight wins.
With Paul Lambert's side doing well to avoid any complacency so far this season, Huckerby does not expect the current City boss to let that change any time soon.
'When you're going into games expecting to win sometimes you don't concentrate as much as you should do; that's the difficulty,' said Huckerby.
'But I can't see that being a problem with this manager. He knows what he wants, he seems very focused. Players win games and we've got better players than most teams.
'If we win the league or get promoted, then it is job done. Next season is a completely different kettle of fish.
'The standard in the league above is much, much better than it is in League One, which I've been very disappointed with, if I'm being honest. The standards of the teams I've seen play, bar one or two, have been pretty bad.
'The club is far better than the teams we're playing against and we deserve to be playing at least Championship football.'
Huckerby has 'quite a few options' as he looks to make his career after football and he starts his coaching badges in the next couple of weeks at Norwich.
The former City star admits he is enjoying his retirement from playing.
'It's pretty easy if I'm going to be honest,' said Huckerby. 'I wouldn't say I'm missing it, because I'm not. I was in a lot of pain the last six months when I was playing so I'm pretty comfortable where I am at the minute.
'I've got a lot of hard work ahead, though. If I want to move into something else I've got to start from the bottom and work my way up, but I'm a hard worker and I'll do what it takes.'
Before that, Huckerby will take on the challenge of the Sport Relief mile with former team-mate Craig Fleming and City chief executive David McNally, no mean feat considering Huckerby's autumn operation.
'It's a great cause,' Huckerby added. 'They don't just do stuff for all around the country, a lot of it is based around Norfolk as well. So it's a great thing to do.'