City winger Lee Croft has hailed Canary new-boy Antoine Sibierksi as one of the good guys as the 34-year-old French striker prepares for his Norwich debut at Home Park this afternoon.
Croft is better placed than most to assess the on-loan Wigan striker's likely impact on Norwich's 2008-2009 campaign – the two were, of course, together at Manchester City.
And having watched Glenn Roeder's transfer deadline day arrival warm-up for this weekend's trip to the South-West with a full week's training under his belt, Croft appears happy that the gaping hole that Dion Dublin left in his retirement wake has been filled.
“He's good,” was Croft's simple verdict, as the City faithful wait to see the proof in the pudding.
Two homes games in the space of four big days – Wednesday night's home clash with big-spending QPR being followed by next Saturday's Carrow Road meeting with ever-awkward Sheffield United – will give an early indication of the difference that 'Sibi' can make having been signed on that half season long loan spell at nigh-on the midnight hour last month.
The fact that Latics boss Steve Bruce insisted this week that the 6ft 2in Frenchman still had a potential role to play at the JJB come the New Year, suggests that Sibierski remains a wanted man in at least two corners of the country.
“He's good in the air; a good finisher; and he's good technical ability as well,” said Croft, running through the new-boy's list of attributes. “So he'll be a big plus point to have up top.”
He wasn't, said Croft, quite in the Dion Dublin mould. One argument might suggest that Sibierski has more of an attacking midfielder in him than Dion ever had; but then Dublin's masterclass used to be more with his back to goal.
“I think they're different players, but he could be in a similar mould,” said Croft. “He's very good in the air; he'll flick things on; he'll win things. He's a very good finisher.
“All the factors that we've been lacking – just someone who can give us a physical threat. There's been games where we've played well but not put the ball away or not taken chances. But who knows? We can't just look back – we've got to look forward and, hopefully, start winning games which is what we need to do.”
Years of Premiership experience won't go amiss; nor will that 6ft 2in frame in what remains a very physical Championship league.
“I'm sure he'll have a big impact – for however long he's here,” said the Canary winger, one of the few 'veterans' of te last two visits to Home Park. On neither occasion did the visiting Canaries do themselves much justice; both defeats would send shock waves through the City system – on the first occasion it was the then manager that felt the full force of the bitter, post-match inquest; on the second it was the dressing room that bore the brunt of the manager's wrath as the famed 'Plymouth Brethren' were bundled out of the door on the back of last season's 3-0 'epic'.
“Horrible,” was Croft's simple description of his memories of last season's visit. “It was one of the low points so it's up to us – we'll be looking to come away with a different result tomorrow.”
He doesn't, it seems, want a repeat of last season's events which ended with Roeder peeling paint from the dressing room walls.
“It wasn't good,” said the one-time England Youth winger, with more than a hint of understatement.
“It was one of the gaffer's first games; it was disappointing; he was disappointed – a few words were said after that game. We just need to make sure that there's not a repeat performance.”
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