Shackell - Victory is a must

Jason Shackell says nothing but a win at Queens Park Rangers tonight will be good enough for the struggling Canaries. “We need to get a win, it's as simple as that,” said the City skipper, ahead of a match which pits the two worst performing teams in the Championship together.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Jason Shackell says nothing but a win at Queens Park Rangers tonight will be good enough for the struggling Canaries.

“We need to get a win, it's as simple as that,” said the City skipper, ahead of a match which pits the two worst performing teams in the Championship together.

“We are playing teams and not getting the right results, and we need to turn that around very quickly, starting at QPR.

“They are all important games, but it is a massive game already - QPR are without a win and we have to go there and look to win.

“Nothing else will do, to be honest. They haven't started well either so they are going to be up for it, it is not going to be an easy game by any means but we have to look to go there and get the three points.”

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If ever a skipper needed to sound a rallying call, it's now, with City languishing in the relegation zone after a run of seven league games with just one win - and four consecutive games without a goal.

The message from Shackell is clear.

“Stick by us,” he said. “Obviously they are the ones who pay the cash and we're letting them down at the moment, it is as simple as that.

“We want to win for the fans and obviously they are going to be disappointed, but sometimes they don't realise how much it hurts us. We don't like losing and we don't like letting anybody down to be honest. We will look at ourselves and we will try and start getting the right results.

“The boys know where we are at the moment, we know we are not performing well enough, and we know we have to pull our fingers out to be honest and get ourselves going and performing at a level we should be at.

“The boys know it is important - we are in the relegation zone, like Dion (Dublin) said, we should be embarrassed at ourselves at the moment. With the players we have got in our squad we shouldn't be anywhere near there to be honest.”

While the players have felt the brunt of fans' criticism on the pitch, manager Peter Grant hasn't escaped it on the touchline - but Shackell says he is being unfairly targeted.

“The boys get on really well with him and he is taking a lot of stick and he can only do so much,” he said. “He can pick the 11 and put them out on the pitch and it is down to us to perform and at the end of the day we're not performing on the pitch.

“Then obviously he starts tinkering with formations, but that is because he is trying to spark something because we are not performing on the pitch.

“I think he is getting an awful lot of stick where some of the blame has got to fall to the players.”

Shackell has been forced to watch the last three matches from the sidelines after his red card at Wolves - and says it's been tough going.

“I hate watching from the side, every footballer does,” he said. “It's been frustrating because you want to be there helping the lads.

“We are not performing well, we all know that. I just think it's a lack of confidence, simple as that. I think we have been defending very well, Ian (Murray) and Doc (Gary Doherty) have been very good. We started creating a few more chances against Scunthorpe, now we have got to make sure that we carry on creating chances and we have got to make sure we take them.

“It is a lack of confidence that has accumulated over the last few games and the longer the games go on at 0-0 the boys are getting nervous and we don't play as well.

“I thought we passed well in the first half against Sheffield Wednesday for instance, it carried on at 0-0 and we got a bit nervous and they nicked a goal. It would be nice to get an early goal at QPR and start something there, get a little bit of confidence again and hopefully start a little run.”

With Doherty out tonight and Murray doubtful because of a foot injury, Shackell is likely to make an instant return to the City starting line-up - and will be helping to erase the memory of Wolves.

“It's football, you are going to make tackles, you are going to miss-time ones, it is part and parcel of it,” said Shackell, who played almost an hour for the reserves in midweek.

“It is my first red card and hopefully I won't get many more.

“Obviously the first few days was frustrating, but you get on with it and keep your head down, carry on working on the training pitch; now I'm just happy to be back.

“It wasn't a nice feeling, but it's done and dusted now.

“Everything is fine on the fitness front - I came back from injury and played at Wolves. I felt good at Wolves - before I got sent off - and then I have had a couple of weeks more training and it did me good to have a little run-out for an hour the other night, so I'm feeling good.”

In between matches Shackell has also penned a new deal, adding an extra year to his current contract, tying him to City until 2010.

“This is where I want to be, this is where I want to play my football,” he said. “It's a great club - we are not performing well at the moment but this is where I want to be and I want to be part of a team which gets Norwich up to the right half of the table and push on from there.”