Hughton happy to bide his time and ease Kamara gently into the fray as Fulham head for Norfolk this weekend seeking a first day repeatFri 8 Feb 13 by Rick Waghorn
City boss Chris Hughton is prepared to play a waiting game when it comes to his second strike signing of the transfer window – MLS star Kei Kamara.
The 28-year-old is now in the building and training with his new team-mates, but this weekend’s home clash with Fulham may well prove to be all-too much all-too soon as the Sierre Leone forward starts to settle into his new surroundings.
But unlike fellow new-boy Luciano Becchio, Kamara is not in the midst of a run of games. The MLS is in its mid-season break. Couple that to the general upheaval that the long-distance move entailed and with both skipper Grant Holt and Becchio at his disposal – not to mention new Republic of Ireland hero Wes Hoolahan – and Hughton can afford to be cautious.
“What we need to assess is exactly where he is at the moment,” the City chief told reporters ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash.
“He’s on the back of a break in MLS and he has not played the number of games we would have liked in the last few weeks,” added Hughton.
The manager did, however, give every indication that Kamara was ready to make a name for himself this side of the pond following his switch from Sporting Kansas City.
“His mindset is very good,” said Hughton.
“He wants to come here and he wants to make an impact. That’s why we brought him over and that’s what we would like him to do.”
Kamara can play right across the frontline; his first opportunity may yet come on one or other flank; Anthony Pilkington is a doubt, for example, with the hamstring strain that ruled him out of the Republic of Ireland’s friendly adventures this week.
He also has Becchio ahead of him in the queue; the Argentinian – fresh from bagging 19 goals this season for Leeds – made a brief appearance in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at QPR. At home and with a full week’s training under his belt, most would expect Becchio to play a bigger role tomorrow.
It would still be a big call for him to oust Holt out of Hughton’s starting plans; ditto Hoolahan whose confidence will have been lifted again by his goal-scoring heroics for the Republic.
Norwich’s other injury concern is Alexander Tettey who, according to some reports, is a doubt with a knee problem.
For the visitors, manager Martin Jol would love a repeat of those opening day events at Craven Cottage when a shambolic City crashed to a 5-0 reverse.
Since then, however, order has largely been restored; principally thanks to the arrival of Sebastien Bassong at the heart of that Norwich rearguard and the solidity that the Tettey-Bradley Johnson pairing bring to the middle of the park.
Off such a platform, Norwich built that ten-game unbeaten spell through the autumn; one that still allows them to breathe a little easy in the middle of the table – City sharing that 28-point haul with tomorrow’s visitors.
Successive draws against first Spurs at home and then Rangers away have kept the relegation fight a good seven points distant; victory tomorrow and the finishing line could be as little as three more wins away.
“If we can match the effort and the work-rate that we’ve shown in the last two games, give ourselves and opportunity to create more openings, then we’ve got a good chance to get the result we want,” said Hughton.
Victory and those winter woes will fade that much more into the memory – particularly if the two new boys sparkle on their first appearances on home soil.