A very familiar face is hoping to make his Charlton debut at Carrow Road this weekend, but don’t expect Leon McKenzie to get all sentimental on his return to Norfolk.
The striker, who has been plagued by injury problems since leaving the Canaries, is hoping to feature against his old club after returning to his south London roots on transfer deadline day.
The 31-year-old striker has not featured in the league leaders’ two matchday squads since signing on a free transfer from Coventry as he builds up his fitness levels.
However, the front man, who was a popular figure during the glorious 2003/4 title-winning season, came through 45 minutes in a reserve game against Ebbsfleet United in midweek.
And now he’s itching to be involved against Paul Lambert’s men on Saturday in what will be his first return to Carrow Road as a player since his departure.
“I played a friendly on Tuesday and, now I’ve got through that, I just want to finish the rest of the week strongly and try and get on the bench against my old team Norwich on Saturday,” he said.
“I’m 31, but I’m still hungry and I really want to do well for Charlton. That’s my focus and, with all of my family being from south London, it’s nice to be back home.”
McKenzie will be hoping he can finally get his career back on track after a stop-start time at the Ricoh Arena. But he’ll have to get past Deon Burton first.
And with the Addicks currently sitting top of the League One pile, the left-sided forward will have his work cut out.
A loss of form for lone striker Burton would certainly strengthen McKenzie’s case for a starting berth, although he does not necessarily share that view.
“It’s a long season and, at the end of the day, I’m here to improve the squad and I’ve not come in to disrupt anything,” he explained.
“Deon is a doing a hell of a job and hopefully, over the next few games, I can just come on, give a little spark and change something – maybe get a goal myself or set someone else up.
“If we keep winning matches, and I’m part of that, then that’s the most important thing to me,” continued the 31-year-old.
“My number one target is to get the third promotion of my career and hopefully that will be with Charlton.”
It has certainly been a more than satisfactory start to the season for Phil Parkinson’s men and you would say that they’ve acclimatised to League One life better than City have.
And it would be major boost for the home side to claw back some of the 11-point gap as the Addicks and Leeds threaten to break away from the chasing pack.
It will be interesting to see the reaction McKenzie gets if he makes it on to the pitch after his previously good relationship with the Canary nation was soured by his departure.
He claimed he needed to leave Norfolk for ‘personal reasons’ and there were a mixture of boos and cheers on his only reacquaintance with the City support on the first day of last season at the Ricoh Arena.
But he was keen on clearing up one thing this week – there was no malice in his celebration that day, when he revealed a t-shirt upon scoring in front of the Sky Blues faithful in the 2-0 win.
“It was not to kick them in the face,” he said. “It was just unfortunate that it was against them that I got the winning – and my 100th – goal.
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