One To Watch - Robert Earnshaw
Vital QPR`s Nik has identified Robert Earnshaw as Nottingham Forest`s 'one to watch`, ahead of Saturday`s Championship clash at Loftus Road.
Having grown up in Africa, 'Earnie` as he is nicknamed, moved to Wales at the age of nine.
Having signed YTS forms at Cardiff City as a 16 year old, Earnshaw was loaned out to Scottish side, Greenock Morton. First team appearances, however, were hard to come by, and Earnshaw played just four times in total, managing to find the scoresheet twice.
Earnshaw returned to Cardiff for the 2000-01 Season, and this proved to be the season that the 5 ft 8 front-man made his mark. The Wales international scored 19 League goals in just 21 starts, ending the season with 25 goals in total and playing a vital role in the Welsh side`s promotion from Division three.
The striker started the next campaign just as well as he had ended the last, and contributed a further 15 goals to the Bluebirds` cause, as they adapted to life in Division two excellently, finishing 4th in the League, before being defeated by Stoke City in the Play-off semi finals.
Earnshaw`s season ultimately ended in a massive success though, as, in May 2002, he made his Wales debut against Germany, grabbing the winner at the Millennium Stadium. He was later voted Young Welsh football of the year.
Earnshaw had turned himself into the hottest property in Welsh football, and ahead of the 2002-03 Season, expectations at Cardiff were extremely high. Earnie certainly didn`t disappoint, banging in 31 League goals, as Cardiff were promoted to Division One, winning the play off final. (Who cares who the opposition were? They were promoted the next season anyway!!!). In the process, Earnshaw managed to break a 56-year old club record, set by Stan Richards.
The reputation of Earnshaw was ever growing, and Division one defenders were left quaking in their boots again the following season, as a further 26 goals were added to the ever-growing tally of goals scored by the 10 st 10lbs striker. Cardiff had a good season, finishing comfortably in 13th place.
The forward showed that he hadn`t lost the knack of scoring for his country either, hitting a hat-trick in Wales` 4-0 drubbing of Scotland in a friendly match played in February 2004.
Having established himself as a Cardiff legend, scoring 105 goals in all competitions in the process, Earnshaw completed a £3 Million move to West Bromwich Albion in 2004. Plying his trade in the Premiership, he adapted like a duck to water, scoring 11 Premiership starts, and adding three more in the FA Cup. During this season Earnshaw made history on 19 March 2005, with a hat-trick away to Charlton Athletic. With this hat-trick, the striker became the first ever to score a hat-trick in the top four tiers of English football, the FA Cup, Carling Cup and at International level, a truly remarkable feat.
The Baggies` however, seriously strengthened their squad that Summer, bringing in strikers such as Diomansy Kamara and Nathan Ellington, meaning Earnshaw`s first-team opportunities were limited.
Finding himself appearing for West Brom less and less, Earnshaw completed a move to Norwich City on 31st January 2006, dropping back down to Championship level. The fee for Earnshaw`s services would eventually rise to £3.5 Million. Fitting in nicely, Earnie grabbed eight goals for the Canaries, as they finished 9th.
The 2006-07 season proved to be another productive one for the Welsh marksman, Having smashed in 17 League goals by January, Earnshaw suffered a severe groin injury that kept him out until April, in the end finishing the Season with 19 goals.
Derby County were the next team to pay for Earnshaw`s services, as he completed a £3.5 Million move to the then Premiership club in June 2007. Derby suffered a torrid time in the Premiership, winning only once and finishing with a record-breaking 11 points, a truly horrendous effort. Earnie inevitably suffered, scoring just once in the League all season.
Less than a year after signing for Derby, the striker was on his way again, completing a £2.65 Million move to fierce rivals Nottingham Forest. Earnshaw has started the season well, having scored five goals in all competitions already, despite having suffered an injury.
There is no doubting that Earnshaw, if fit, will provide a huge threat to the R`s backline on Saturday, and the likes of Damion Stewart and Fitz Hall will have to be at their best to stop the Welsh international adding to his ever growing tally of goals.
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