Football: Bellamy begs the question

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The Independent Online
Norwich City 4

Bellamy 2, pen 6, pen 57, Jackson 8

Queens Park Rangers 2

Peacock pen 4, Sheron 37

Attendance: 16,317

BOBBY GOULD, the manager of Wales, may be suffering from a certain sense of oversight today after leaving Craig Bellamy out of his initial squad for the European qualifiers. Bellamy celebrated his 19th birthday last month and played the game of his career to score a hat-trick here yesterday and ensure Norwich maintained their 100 per cent start to the season.

Bellamy was a trainee at Norwich and is already a Welsh Under-21 International, but he now looks ready for a step up in class as well as finding his best playing position.

"We were playing him in midfield in pre-season and then we asked him where he wanted to play," said the Norwich manager Bruce Rioch. "He said as a striker, so we put him up there and he's done a lot of damage." Bellamy now has six goals this season and recently signed a four-year contract.

The teenager's main weapon is his pace and he found it easy to reduce QPR's back three to bystanders as Norwich powered their way to a 3-1 lead in a breathless first eight minutes.

Bellamy's first after two minutes was deceptively simple as he latched on to Keith O'Neill's through ball and sprinted away to slide the ball coolly inside the far post. The second and third were both from the penalty spot but he tucked them away with a composure which belies his years. He was also instrumental in winning the second penalty, after Steve Yates finally gave up the unequal contest and hacked him down in the area.

By contrast, QPR have had precious little to cheer about from the opening exchanges of the season. Only one point has been gained from nine and they badly need to add fresh players if they are not to have another disappointing season.

But their manager Ray Harford sees little hope in the near future. "I learnt in June that there is no cash for players," he said despondently. This is despite John Spencer, Trevor Sinclair and recently Nigel Quashie all moving on for large fees.

The only optimistic words Harford found were for the Ireland Under-21 International Tony Scully, a constant threat on the right. But even here his comments were barbed. "If Scully was playing for Norwich, they would have scored 10," he said.