Record-breaking Robert?

CHRIS LAKEY Robert Earnshaw is on the way to breaking a Norwich City goal scoring record which has stood for more than half a century.


Robert Earnshaw is on the way to breaking a Norwich City goal scoring record which has stood for more than half a century.

The Canaries hot shot has hit 10 goals in 15 Championship games this season - and if he manages to keep up that staggering goals per game ratio until next May, he would become the first player to score 30 goals in a season since the legendary Ralph Hunt set what is still a club record way back in the 1955-56 season.

Hunt scored 31 in 45 outings at a rate of one in every 1.45 games while Earnshaw's current strike rate is currently a goal every 1.5 games - and at that rate he would finish the season with 30.6.

It's a wafer thin margin, but Earnshaw is also on course to become the first Norwich City player to score 20 goals in a season since Chris Sutton in the 1993-94 campaign. Sutton hit 25 that year - prompting his £5m move to Blackburn Rovers - at one every 1.64 games.

Earnshaw moved into double figures at the weekend, ending a run of four games without a win by scoring the only goal of the game to beat Sunderland.

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His current stats are no flash in the pan: even after making his surprise move from West Brom in last January's transfer window he managed eight goals in 13 starts, taking his total to 18 in 28.

The 25-year-old is locked in a scoring duel with Cardiff's Michael Chopra - who currently heads the table with 11 goals - but either way they are both on course for a big finish which could see them being the first players in the division to break the 30-goal barrier since Lee Hughes did it for West Brom in 1998-99.

Bookmakers are clearly finding it hard to pick a winner in that particular race, with Skybet offering 2-1 on Chopra and 11-4 on Earnshaw finishing to scorer.

The stats suggest that 30 goals is a rarity - in the last 40 years it has been reached only half a dozen times - and Earnshaw is highly unlikely to get anywhere near Terry Bly's astonishing goal ratio from the 1958-59 season when he hit the back of the net 22 times in 23 starts. However, it wouldn't be a new experience for Earnshaw, who was top scorer in the old Division Two in 2002-03 when he scored 31 goals for Cardiff City.

But one man who isn't setting any targets is Earnshaw himself - with the importance of the goals rather than the quantity being the most important factor to him.

“I want as many as possible,” he said. “I never really think about it. I don't put a target on it - just as many as possible, hopefully as many that count - like the one against Sunderland. I want them to be winning goals.”

Earnshaw left West Brom with 12 goals in 22 Championship starts to his name and faces his old club for the first time this weekend when Norwich head to the Black Country.

His scoring record at The Hawthorns compared favourably with most others, but then manager Bryan Robson wasn't convinced and cashed in to the tune of £3.5m when he froze him out last winter.

However, Earnshaw left on good terms with the fans - and is hoping for a warm welcome on Saturday.

“I really enjoyed it there,” said Earnshaw. “The fans were brilliant. I think it (the reception) will be quite good. They were good to me while I was there.

“Hopefully it goes well and I don't upset them too much - although we will be going there to try and win the game.”