McKenna: Norwood is an Important Part of the Squad
Thursday, 13th Jan 2022 15:43
Town manager Kieran McKenna says striker James Norwood is an important part of his squad, the previously-out-of-favour frontman having scored four goals in his last four league games and having carried off December’s PFA Vertu Motors League One Fans’ Player of the Month.
Having been consigned to the U23s in the latter stages of Paul Cook’s time in charge, Norwood returned to the Town side under interim manager John McGreal and has kept his place since Kieran McKenna took over.
“Really pleased for him. Obviously his goals are the headline, he’s scored for a few games in a row,” McKenna said.
“But, as I’ve said a few times, I’m really pleased with his work-rate on the pitch, that’s been the big thing from my point of view, the way he’s worked for the team, the way he’s worked without the ball, the willingness to sacrifice himself at times.
“He’s played in a few different roles, he’s had his position tweaked across a few different games and he’s shown a willingness to learn, to work for the team, to adapt to his position when needs be.
“Obviously, individual honours are nice, it’s nice for James to get that, but the most important thing for me is the team, and James is buying into that, everyone being ready to work for the team and I think James would certainly say himself that the team has had a big part in him getting that reward.
“He’s been the one able to score the goals but the rest of the team, his strike partner, Macauley [Bonne], has been involved in a couple of goals and it’s about how they work for each other to create chances when we have the ball and stop the other team when we don’t have it.
“It’s great to see James getting that reward and I think it’s a credit to the team for the way that they’ve helped support him and also credit for how he’s support the team.”
Norwood is among the players who are out of contract in the summer but McKenna says it’s too early to start discussing those situations with CEO Mark Ashton.
“Not when the guys who are contracted until the end of the season,” he said. “Obviously we’ve only had two games so far with the squad that we have here, so we’re in constant dialogue about the squad and I’ll fill them in on how happy I’ve been with certain aspects and other things that I think can be improved upon.
“But I don’t think it’s the time yet to start talking too much about the squad for next season and what the balance is going to look like. I think it’s a little bit early for that.
“I think the immediate priority is working with the players that are here for the rest of this season and improving the here and nows, the next game being on Saturday.
“Obviously, we’re talking a lot about January and anything that might happen there, in or out, that can improve the squad or it might be the right thing for a player who is here [to move on].
“I think probably a little bit further down the line will be the time to have a chat about next season and the players who are leaving and who is going to be the right balance and the right fit for the squad that we want going into next year.”
At the end of last year, during Norwood’s time out of the squad and spell training with the U23s, working with Kieron Dyer, to whom he recently paid credit, it was understood that the striker would be made available for transfer in January.
Given his current form, it was suggested that that would be something McKenna now wouldn’t want to happen.
“No, he’s been an important part of the squad, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “As I said before, he’s been important in terms of goals, he’s been important in terms of his performances, his effort and attitude on the pitch has been infectious.
“And he’s also been a good influence around the group in the time that I’ve been here. He’s been training hard, and he’s had his head down; he’s been supportive of his teammates, very much working for the group and working for the team.
“I can speak of the time that I’ve been here, I’ve been happy with him, he’s been working really hard for the team and he’s in form, and we’re seeing him being an important part of the team at the moment.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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