Norwich City’s Gary Hooper is not a bit-part player for Neil Adams
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Neil Adams admits Gary Hooper has every right to feel frustrated at his lack of action during Norwich City's recent Championship struggles.
Hooper's instinctive finish earned City a draw against Brighton and pushed his claims for a start ahead of Reading's league visit to Carrow Road.
Adams has kept faith with Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban after a prolific start to the season, but the City boss insists Hooper is more than a back-up option.
'It was excellent goal, a fantastic finish from him and we know he can do that and he has done his chances of starting the next game no harm at all,' he said. 'That is what we put him on for. He really has been in my thoughts to start in these last few games. He has been working really hard in training, he has looked really sharp and he is probably kicking his heels and as frustrated as anyone in the squad because he knows he can score goals and you saw that with his finish. He earned us a draw from a game we should have won.'
Adams' first summer signing, Grabban, has now gone nine games without a goal following a productive opening to his Norwich career.
'One thing you are guaranteed from Lewis Grabban is energy and effort. You look at the statistics and he probably runs more than any player on the pitch every game,' said Adams. 'You can never accuse him of lacking desire. He needs a goal at the minute, obviously, and he is finding it tough at the minute. He had a couple of opportunities (against Brighton) but he works for you and the team and you can never criticise him for that desire.'
Grabban plundered five goals in his first five games, including the derby winner against Ipswich, in a game soured by Ryan Bennett's ankle injury. The central defender returned to full training yesterday and Adams will assess his fitness for the Royals' visit.
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'Whether or not he is ready for the next game will be down to the feedback from the medical people and the sports scientists who give us that advice,' he said. 'He is a player uppermost in my thoughts to play, as he was when he got injured at Ipswich. There is potential to play him at under-21 level but we want players of his calibre back available as soon as we can.'