Strihavka - man for all seasons
CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant believes new signing David Strihavka will become the perfect partner in his Norwich City attack next season.
Peter Grant believes new signing David Strihavka will become the perfect partner in his Norwich City attack next season.
The Czech hitman's move to City from Banik Ostrava finally went through yesterday lunchtime - leaving the Canaries boss to figure out just who goes where in his front line.
The arrival of Strihavka - who will become the first Czech player to appear in the yellow and green - for an undisclosed fee means Grant now has plenty of options in his forward line, although he insisted yesterday that the 24-year-old brought a new dimension to his squad.
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“I have Huckerby, I have Dublin, I have Chris Martin, Chris Brown - I just think we have a bigger mixture now,” said Grant. “I look at last year and I see Earnie (Robert Earnshaw) here and it was Earnie and anybody else when he was fit. I never had him for four months near enough, and I felt as if then I had to mix and match.
“And then I looked at Earnie and Hucks in the last game of the season and didn't think that was a partnership made in heaven. Now we have a mixture - David can play with Dion Dublin, he can play with Jamie Cureton, he can play with Chris Brown, he can play with Darren Huckerby and I don't think we had that in the group last year. We can play any pair out of that and it will give us something different - and that is the first time we have had that.”
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Two of West Ham's former Czech players - Ludek Miklosko and Tomas Repka - helped convince Grant of Strihavka's qualities.
“In the last game we watched him he was playing against Tomas Repka - who I know from my West Ham time,” explained Grant.
“I thought it would be a great test - and he scored in the game. Tomas is a tough defender and there was no quarter asked, no quarter given, but David gave as much as he possibly could in the game and I thought he played against Tomas very, very well. That was probably that made my mind up.
“He can look after himself. He is quick and quick with the ball at his feet and has a good change of pace over a short distance.
“Ludo Miklosko is a friend of mien and when I spoke to Ludo about David he thought we wouldn't be able to get him because he thought they'd ask for too much money for him and he knew a few of the top teams over there wanted him. Thankfully David wanted to come to England.”
Strihavka - who was also wanted by Red Star Belgrade and Olympiakos as well as another Championship team - was leading league scorer in the Czech top flight last season with 13 goals in 28 games for Banik and while he has represented his country at under-16 and under-19 level, Grant believes his move to England shows his desire to earn senior international caps.
“You talk about (Jan) Kohler and they say David is an ideal replacement, even though he is a different type of player, because of his size and power,” Grant added.
“That is one of the reasons he came here, because of his ambitions to play for his country. Obviously there were clubs sniffing around in the Premier League that would like to take him. I think he has a hunger to try and be successful quickly and prove to people he can do it in England as well as in the Czech Republic.
“His ratio of games to goals is very, very good. I think at the prices we are getting now and you see some of the players, people could be looking back and saying it's a good piece of business.”
Strihavka's arrival takes Grant's summer signings to six - but the Canaries boss says the recruitment drive may not be over, with strengthening in midfield and defence still on his agenda.
“We have until August 31 and maybe we will even still use the loan system,” he said. “We will see where the boys are. I still feel there are one or two positions where I feel we could do with an extra body in - midfield to defence we will have a look at and assess that in the next few weeks.
“We will see how they come through the (pre-season) games.”