On-loan Canary striker Ched Evans is keeping his fingers firmly crossed that this weekend's 90th minute strike can blast the teenager into derby contention as all eyes now turn towards next Sunday's meeting with the neighbours.
The 18-year-old Manchester City starlet has been left to play second fiddle to Jamie Cureton of late, but made his point in no uncertain fashion on Saturday when he drilled home Norwich's second strike in the 2-0 home win over Burnley.
City boss Glenn Roeder provided a running commentary to the youngster's latest Carrow Road strike as he spoke immediately after the Clarets' clash.
“Darren [Huckerby] broke over the half-way line; carried the ball like he does quickly to the heart of their defence; Doc [Gary Doherty] made an intelligent run; Ched pulled sideways to have the ball slipped in,” recounted the City chief.
“And I think at that stage Hucks [Huckerby] probably thought: 'I can score myself when I get to the edge of the box…'
“And the defender did well to hold him up and it eventually broke to Ched; he twisted and turned and put himself in an impossible position to score and how he got it in from that angle, I don't know. And I don't care either….”
The youngster himself was just delighted to get back on the score-sheet again after coming close at Ashton Gate with two fierce drives that merely flew straight into the keeper's waiting arms.
“Yes, it's always good to score,” he said, as the Canaries managed to conjure up two goals almost an hour-and-a-half apart en route to taking one, large leap nearer Championship safety. It may also prove a big nudge for Roeder as the manager starts to put together his Suffolk game-plan.
“I just need to get back in the team now,” said Evans. “Just keep performing and score goals – that's what my job is.”
He was well aware of where that left the Norfolk side in the grander scheme of things. “It's a massive result and I think that it pushes us up to 52 points which everyone is pleased with, but we're just glad for the three points and [getting] back to winning ways.”
The fact that it took 90 minutes to get everyone off the edges of their seats was one of the few downsides. “We had the chances to finish it off, but I'm just glad that we did in the end – and you can never score too early. Or too late.”
As for the secret of his impossible-angle success, it was all quite simple. “I just looked to get half-a-yard and get my shot off,” he said. “And I'm just glad that it went in.”
Due reward for the Canaries putting their best foot forward – and from the very first minute to the very last. Literally, in Saturday's case.
“I think we're one of the most attacking teams in the Championship at the moment,” said Evans. “On the break, we break like no other team. But I think that's something that we can all work on as a team – getting more people into the box and not just relying on certain players to score. Even left-backs and right-backs getting forward.”
As for that trip to Portman Road, in fairness to the young man, he was taking nothing for granted on the back of this weekend's late strike. Whether he goes for Evans ahead of Jamie Cureton is – as things currently stand – likely to be Roeder's one real decision of note.
“At the moment you don't know because Jamie is in good form; so is Dion [Dublin],” said Evans. “All you've got to do is fight for your place.”
Roeder readily admitted that it has been a frustrating time for the 18-year-old – handed every chance to impress at the start of next pre-season by Manchester City chief Sven-Goran Eriksson. Only then will the Swede decide where the Welsh Under-21 striker's future lies in 2008-2009.
Come the summer of 2009 and on current goal-scoring form, the young man is likely to be the master-blaster at the head of Bryan Flynn's Under-21 outfit as they gun for an all-too rare appearance in a major football final – on this occasion the European Under-21 Championsips. In the meantime, however, the youngster has his Championship 'homework' to do whilst on-loan at Carrow Road before Eriksson decides whether or not he can graduate into his first team thinking next season.
Out of contract in the summer of 2009, Evans also has a new Eastlands deal to ponder. It is a busy time in the teenager's life. It would be even busier if he could just budge Cureton out of Roeder's first team thinking. A repeat of his Cardiff (a) heroics at Portman Road would certainly go down well with the Norwich faithful.
“It's been frustrating for him – it's been frustrating for us,” said Roeder. “Because if you were to see some of the goals that he scores in training during the week, well, thank God we put nets on goals… Otherwise it would take five minutes to go and get the ball back.”
He was, said Roeder, simply one of those. One of those that Mother Nature built with a nose for goal. And with a right-foot to match.
“He is, in my opinion, a natural goal-scorer. There are other things in his game that we need to work hard with him at in terms of coaching him to do things better, but his ability to score goals is a God-given talent. It's something that you can't coach,” said Roeder.
“And any coach or manager that says: 'I taught that player to score goals…' is a liar and a bad coach. Because scoring goals is a God-given talent.”
Leave a Reply