City striker Simeon Jackson will be hoping to add to his recent collection of Premier League starts again tomorrow as the Canaries head for St James’ Park and a chance to regain their place in the top half of the table.
This afternoon’s results left the Norfolk side rather becalmed in 13th with Swansea City now setting the pace for the new-boys up in eighth.
The Canaries, however, can put themselves right back in that pack if they can add to Newcastle’s recent discomforts.
Up top may well be the 24-year-old Canadian who has started two of City’s last three games and with James Vaughan still stuck on the sidelines looks all set to figure large in Paul Lambert’s thinking between now and the end of the season – now just ten games distant.
“It’s been good to get out there and get some games and, hopefully, I can keep that going now,” said Jackson, who played the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic last weekend after being a second-half sub in the style-numbing defeat at Stoke City.
Last time City met the Magpies, Lambert took full advantage of Newcastle’s woes at centre-half to throw both ‘big men’ into the mixer in the shape of pairing Grant Holt alongside Steve Morison. Three, thumping headers later and Norwich were running out 4-2 winners.
Whether such thinking will work again tomorrow is another matter, but Jackson is all-too aware of the competition for places that now exists in that Canary dressing room. The manager could, equally, drop either Wes Hoolahan or new-boy Jonny Howson in the hole behind a big target man.
The permutations are many and varied.
“Everyone has been doing well and we’ve been doing well as a team,” said Jackson, who has had to bide his time this season after scoring that goal away at Portsmouth one famous Norwich night.
“It’s been hard to get into the team when everyone is doing well and when you’re in it, you’ve got to stay in it – and that’s what I am looking to do right now.”
With most experts offering up that 40-point mark as the survival finishing line this season, Norwich remain tantalisingly close to booking their place back in the top flight again next year. For the sake of everyone’s nerves, it would be nice to sort the maths out early – as opposed to any repeats of Fulham (a).
“There’s ten games left and a lot of points to play for,” said the Canadian international. “So we definitely have to stay on our toes and make sure we get the job done now.”
Whether Norwich take another giant step towards that goal tomorrow remains to be seen. With just two points from their last four Premier League outings, United will be desperate to kick their season back into gear again in front of the Toon faithful.
“We want to make sure that we get across the line and don’t get dragged into anything,” said Jackson, hoping to leave the Wigans and Wolves of this world to their fate.
“So it’s up to us to keep our heads on and stay focussed,” he added.
A first trip to St James’ now looms. It remains a long, long way for a young man that can still remember working in a Croydon McDonald’s, playing non-league football as he waited for the footballing gods to smile.
“It’s going to be a lot different to the game when we played that at home, but we’re going to go up there and try and get a result,” said Jackson, convinced that Norwich will rise to the big occasion – just as they have before at Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge.
“I’ve never been to Newcastle, but I’m pretty sure that the atmosphere there is going to be one that will stand out,” he said.
What exact horse Lambert runs for this course will be revealed over the course of the next 24 hours. Jackson appears well-versed in the manager’s tactical ways – and the way that, in turn, impacts on his selection policy.
“We know that we take different approaches to different teams – and that’s something that everyone here is used to now. And when you’re called upon, you’ve just got to make sure that you’re ready.”