Star duo hold no fear for Cureton

CHRIS LAKEY City hitman Jamie Cureton comes face to face with two of English football's greatest strikers this afternoon - but says reputations count for nothing.

CHRIS LAKEY

City hitman Jamie Cureton comes face to face with two of English football's greatest strikers this afternoon - but says reputations count for nothing.

Cureton - last year's Championship Golden Boot winner - and Chris Brown are expected to line up against goal-scoring legends Robbie Fowler and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, now plying their trade for Cardiff City.

But he insists they hold no fear for a City side desperately trying to find some sort of early-season consistency.

“They have massive reputations, but they are obviously at this level for a reason,” said Cureton, who is expected to shake off a knock to play this afternoon.

“If they were as good as they were a while ago then they wouldn't be down here, so we can't be too star-struck over it.

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“I am sure they are going to scare a lot of teams - people aren't going to want to play against them just purely on their quality. But I would say they need people to create chances for them this time around rather than them creating their own.

“We have to respect them, they are very good players, but they are not so much past their best but they are not at the level they were at, so we can't get too carried away with that. We just have to get on with our jobs and perform as well as we can and hopefully win the game.”

The contrast between Fowler, 32, and Hasselbaink, 35, and Cureton and strike partner Chris Brown could hardly be more different.

Fowler and Hasselbaink may be in the twilight of their careers, but their records stand up to comparison with the best - Liverpool hero and former England international Fowler has more than 300 Premiership games and 162 goals to his name, while his strike partner has scored 129 goals in almost 250 top-flight games - records that put them fourth and seventh respectively on the leading goal scorers' list.

Cureton has never played in English football top flight, while Brown has started just 10 Premiership games and has a solitary goal to his name.

But what the City pair do possess is experience of life outside the top flight: neither Fowler nor Hasselbaink has ever stepped foot in the Championship.

Cureton has made a career out of tormenting lower league defences and, even after turning 32 this week, is as fit as he has ever been and appears to be improving with age.

And this afternoon he could, for the first time, have the explosive pace of Darren Huckerby helping to provide the ammunition.

Huckerby is back in harness, even though he got more than he bargained for at Rochdale in midweek when a 45-minute run-out turned into a 120-minute extra-time slog.

With manager Peter Grant's plans disrupted by more injury problems, Huckerby is expected to start - and that's good news for Cureton.

“He has been coming back into training and you can see his quality,” said Cureton. “He is another player that adds to us and hopefully he is another that creates chances for me.

“We haven't played in the same team yet, but I'm looking forward to it. He has that quality that he beats players and gets to bylines and just creates space for other players because people are so worried about what he can do.

“As an attacking force he is obviously up there with the best, so I am looking forward to it, if we are both selected - it could work very well. He is something that we have missed probably, just that bit of creativity. He can keep you up the pitch that bit more if you give him the ball and let him do what he does best. We need him fit and we need him in the team.”