If there is one player who knows more than most just what Julien Brellier can bring to the City party this season then it is versatile Canary midfielder Simon Lappin.
He has, after all, been able to see the Frenchman go to work on the training ground at Colney over the last few weeks. Before that and Lappin used to bump into Brellier on a regular basis – every time St Mirren and Hearts were paired together in the Scottish Premier League.
The last time was in December – a 2-2 draw at St Mirren Park. On that day, Brellier arrived as an 82nd minute substitute; two months earlier and the Canary pair had eachother for company for the full 90 minutes as the Buddies nicked the honours away at Tynecastle 1-0.
?I do remember Julien from when we played Hearts at Tynecastle,? said the 24-year-old Lappin, who come the New Year would be packing his bags for Norfolk as he prepared to test himself in the Championship.
Brellier would follow suit this summer.
?Julien's a good player. And, at the end of the day, the fact that he's played for clubs like Montpellier and Inter Milan says it all really.
?He's a fantastic player; he's great on the ball; will run all day for you – what more do you want??
The cotton wool came off Brellier on Friday night when he completed 56 minutes against Vitesse Arnhem in City's final dress rehearsal for the season having been sidelined for the pre-season tour to Holland with a slight thigh strain.
?I thought he looked sharp the other night. He's had a few days off with injury, but he's back now and,as I say, looking sharp – and he's probably the same as the rest of us. He can't wait for the season to get started now.?
And having had two years in the Scottish capital, language shouldn't be too much of a problem – particularly with the likes of Lappin, Mark Fotheringham and the management duo of Peter Grant and Jim Duffy floating about the place.
None of whom – in common with their English team-mates – probably speak a word of Czech as striker David Strihavka joins the league of nations up at Colney.
?Julien's Scottish isn't bad,? confirmed Lappin. ?He's had two years in Edinburgh so he's picked the language up well.
?But to be fair to David, the big guy's doing brilliantly. He's always there with his little phrase book and the boys have a lot of respect for that – he's giving it a real shot.?
Lappin has slipped very easily into Norfolk life and with the ability to play at both left-back and on the left-hand side of midfield – be it one of a three or a four – his versatility is likely to prove invaluable this season.
The fact that he is a natural left-footer also appeals to Grant's determination to bring a better balance to his 2007-2008 squad – have the right pegs for the right holes. Or, in Lappin's case, a player with a sweet left peg for any left-hand hole.
?Since I've been here I've always said that no matter where the manager wants me to play, I'll always give it my best shot,? said Lappin, finding himself in the left-hand slot of a midfield three on Friday night. Whether Chris Martin was then the one in a 4-3-1-2 or just a plain, old third striker in a straight-forward 4-3-3 is one for the system train-spotters to argue about long into the night. Whatever suits Lappin.
?Like I say, if it's 4-3-1-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, whatever it is, I'll always give it my best wherever I'm asked to play.?
It has, he says, been a long, hard summer following the strict training schedule imposed by the club's sports scientist. The result?
?Am I in the fittest shape of my professional career? Yes, I guess you could say so.
?Dave Carolan gave us all a pre-season fitness schedule to work to and I think I only missed one morning session through the whole summer and I do feel a lot stronger, a lot fitter.?
And now just itching for the real fun to start.
?I think I was at that stage a wee while ago,? said Lappin. ?I just can't wait for the season to start now. And I think that's true for all the boys – it's been quite a long break and now we're all chomping at the bit. We want it to start.?
It has been a busy summer in more ways than one as Lappin and his fiancee Jill settle ever more into life in Norfolk.
?We got the keys to our new house the day before we went to Holland,? said lappin.
?We'd been renting a place before, but it's not quite the same as owning your own property. It does make you feel a wee bit more settled.
?And we are loving it here – as do both our families whenever they get to come down. It's a lovely city; a lovely part of the country.?
The Football League fixture computer has also, it seems, done the Lappin family a favour when it comes to next Saturday's curtain-raiser at Deepdale. A mere two hours or so south down the M6.
?It's good – all my family can get down to see it with it being Preston as it's that little bit closer to home,? said the former Buddies' favourite, unmoved by the fact that Norwich start their new campaign away from Norfolk.
?Nobody's too fussed about it being away from home, to be honest with you,? he said.
?At the end of the day, you're going to have to go there at some stage in the season. As I say, I just can't wait now – I'm really looking foward to it; looking forward to the season starting and getting on with it.?
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