We'll sell Leon if the price is right
JONATHAN REDHEAD Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington has admitted he understands why Leon McKenzie is frustrated and said it is possible the striker could leave the club - but only if the price is right.
Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington has admitted he understands why Leon McKenzie is frustrated and said it is possible the striker could leave the club - but only if the price is right.
Worthington confirmed he wants to keep the former Peterborough United front man in Norfolk to play a part in the Canaries' push to regain top flight status.
But the Northern Irishman said he could be tempted by a “very generous” offer for McKenzie, whose contract expires next summer, and is expecting a lot of interest in the forward.
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McKenzie surprised many City fans earlier in the week when he handed in a transfer request, which was immediately rebuffed by Worthington.
The 28-year-old has grown increasingly frustrated with his bit-part role in City's season to date, which culminated on Saturday when he came on as an 89th minute substitute for Robert Earnshaw.
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With his manager still scouring the transfer market for a big striker, McKenzie said he wanted out of the club after two and a half seasons, in a bid for regular first-team football as he reaches the peak of his career.
However, speaking at his weekly press conference before tomorrow's game at Derby, Worthington said he wanted McKenzie to stay at Norwich, wait for his opportunity and then seize it.
“Leon came to me on Monday and said he was going to hand a transfer request in,” Worthington said. “That has since been delivered. Not for sale was delivered back to him and he's trained very well ever since. End of story.
“I can understand the frustration and if managers and football clubs could pick 11 players or sign 11 players and nobody gets injured and nobody loses form and everybody plays well and you only need 11 players, I'm sure most clubs would do it.
“But because of the scenarios with injuries, fatigue, loss of form, you need a squad of players.
“You see big clubs doing the rotation system and I think that says a lot where the game is at. You've got the intensity and the ferocity of the game so you need a squad of players.”
Worthington also said McKenzie should realise what a good club he is at.
“Outside the 11 you're always going to get frustration, I understand that, but you've also got to recognise where you're at,” he said.
“You're at a good club, a club where you're well looked after and a club where you're wanted.
“A club that's looking to move forward so when the opportunity arises, as it will at some stage, you have to make sure you as an individual are ready to get the shirt and then make sure you keep it.”
The City boss is anticipating clubs will try to make a move for McKenzie, but warned that the striker would only leave if the right offer is received.
“There will be interest,” he said. “It's out in the open.
“I don't want to sell the player, but every player has got their price and that type of thing. So should we get a very generous offer from some football club I'm sure it will be considered like everybody else.”
Strikers are on Worthington's mind and he confirmed he is still on the look out for a big target man to carry some of the load, which has been borne so far by wingers Darren Huckerby and Lee Croft, but especially by Earnshaw.
“He's had a nice start to the season but there's a hell of a long way to go,” he said. “If you say to me at the end of the season, Earnshaw's had a heck of a season and got 30 odd goals and we've gained promotion then he's had a sensational season. But at the moment he's ticking over nicely.”
“In the Championship he's very, very capable of doing that so I don't know why people are surprised. That is him. The big thing for Earnie, and I know he's desperate for it, is that he wants to do it at this level and he wants to prove himself in the Premiership. And hopefully he can do that all round by being here.”
The City boss wants Earnshaw to star at Derby and is asking for another good performance from his side to “keep the pot boiling nicely”.
Despite his transfer request, McKenzie is expected to be in the 16 for the trip to the east Midlands.
The starting 11 is unlikely to be changed for the fourth consecutive game, but Peter Thorne could lose his place on the substitutes' bench as he is suffering with a slight hamstring pull but will be given every chance to make the trip.
Andy Hughes could be in line to replace Thorne, while Rossi Jarvis and Ian Henderson are still recovering from injury and Mathieu Louis-Jean is still short of match practice.
Worthington was also expecting Earnshaw, Carl Robinson and Youssef Safri to be fine despite their international exploits in mid week.