Date:Sunday January 8 2006
Stuart Pearce, predictably but nonetheless admirably, has reacted to Robbie Fowler's hat-trick against Scunthorpe United at Eastlands in the FA Cup 3rd round, by insisting that he has no intention of selling the once-great forward and by talking up the ex-Liverpool man.
'I have never thought about selling Robbie Fowler,' said the City boss. 'I am acutely aware he has had a lack of first-team football but our squad is too light to consider letting anyone go and that includes Robbie.
'A lot of people think he is workshy but that is simply not the case. He is one of the hardest workers at this football club and he has never given up.
'Robbie has been a little bit disappointed and I can understand that, if I was in his position I would feel exactly the same.
'It has been difficult for him to break through but I have told him to keep his head down, work hard in training and take his chance. He can't do much more than scoring three.
'We will talk about Robbie's future later in the season. But he needs to break back into the first team on a regular basis.'
This is all well and good and, to be honest, what else could Stuart say in response to one of his forwards scoring a hat-trick? But it was against a team struggling in the third tier of English football, a team that gave Fowler so much time and space that he could have built a log cabin before scoring any of his three goals (although the second, admittedly, was a pearler).
If Pearce was really serious about keeping Robbie he wouldn't have effectively frozen him out of the team since he recovered from injury in November. He certainly wouldn't have targeted forwards in the current transfer window. It seems quite clear that Pearce likes two types of strikers. Speed merchants such as Darius Vassell and totems such as Sibierski and Peter Crouch whom he made a bid for in the summer. He already has a potent poacher in the shape of Andy Cole. Fowler is simply surplus to requirements. With all due respect it's time Fowler, and his wages, were moved on.
City need a young, strong forward who can be a foil to Vassell or Cole. Sadly, Robbie Fowler is not that man.
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