Worthington rates chances
CHRIS LAKEY Nigel Worthington has given Norwich City eight marks out of 10 for their pre-season preparation - a report marred only by the absence of a new, big striker at Carrow Road.
Nigel Worthington has given Norwich City eight marks out of 10 for their pre-season preparation - a report marred only by the absence of a new, big striker at Carrow Road.
Worthington's search for a target man has been well-documented, with veteran Geoff Horsfield the latest in a long line of names put forward to fill gap that a role that perhaps has existed since the departure of Iwan Roberts.
His top targets were out of reach in financial terms, but everything else appears to have gone to plan.
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“I think it has been an excellent pre-season,” said Worthington. “Nail me to the cross 8-10 for the work that has been done by the players, by the staff, the way we have gone about it.
“Getting Lee Croft in has been a big plus for the whole of pre-season as well. The two (marks) that might be missing might be the big striker up front. Apart from that everything else has gone very, very well and we are ready for the start of the season.”
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Croft is the big plus, although Worthington will take his time before deciding whether or not the £600,000 capture from Manchester City will start at Leeds.
While the 21-year-old's move has given the club a lift and cleared some of the hangover from last season, it boils down to just what he does on the pitch. According to Worthington, if the training sessions and tactical tinkering up at Colney are anything to go by, it's so far so good.
“It has fitted in exactly how I envisaged it to fit in and it is lovely to see a natural wide right person in his own position,” Worthington added. “He will be good for Norwich City Football Club and a snip at £600,000.”
What Colney has shown Worthington is that Croft is a tad behind in terms of fitness and might just be better off starting on the bench.
“He has done ok,” said Worthington. “Obviously with the Premier League and Man City being there they are a couple of weeks behind us as far as starting back, so he is behind ourselves as far as that is concerned, but he has got reasonable levels - pretty pleased with him.
“It is one of them we'll decide in the next 48 hours or so, see what's what. He is okay - where he has come in with Man City and where we are it and what he has shown in the couple of days he has trained with us I am pleased with, but there is work to be done to get him up to our level.”
Training has eased off a little this week, but Worthington is clearly putting a major emphasis on mental fitness as well as physical fitness.
“We have not done as many double sessions, when we have worked we have been working at a higher intensity so there is still a high level of work ethic there,” he said. “It's been a tough one (pre-season) and it was deliberately made that way, and the pleasing thing is there are very few injuries coming through that as well, which has been nice.
“Last season we got far too many injuries - now that can be a mental thing, it can be a fatigue thing, it can be all sorts of things in there. We have always worked pretty hard here, but I made it very clear we were going to have a tough one. From the mental point of view and when the season starts we will be in great nick to hopefully push forward.”
Croft is the only doubt - the others in the treatment room are definite non-starters, including Andy Hughes., who was due to train yesterday (Thursday) morning but was later reported to be out of the Leeds trip.
Joining him are goalkeeper Robert Green - although Worthington believes he will be back in full training by the end of the month -
Matthieu Louis-Jean, who is training but need games after nine months out, and Rossi Jarvis (thigh strain). Leon McKenzie, who was too unwell to take his place on the bench for last Saturday's friendly win over Northampton, is fit.
Teenage keeper Joe Lewis will deputise for Paul Gallacher.