Dickov in no mood for favours

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The Independent Online

Paul Dickov, the Manchester City striker, is enjoying a purple patch at the moment, as his best friend, Vince Bartram, is aware. Dickov sent a shot past the stranded Gillingham keeper for the Premiership side's third goal in the Worthington Cup on Tuesday.

Paul Dickov, the Manchester City striker, is enjoying a purple patch at the moment, as his best friend, Vince Bartram, is aware. Dickov sent a shot past the stranded Gillingham keeper for the Premiership side's third goal in the Worthington Cup on Tuesday.

The Scotsman savoured the moment as City secured a place in the third round after a 4-2 win in extra time which took them through 5-3 on aggregate.

"I have put one high past him and one low now and I told him so - I couldn't possibly repeat his reply," he said.

"Gillingham made us work hard for the result and it was a relief when that third one went in. I saw Vince coming off his line and just thought I'd keep it low and slide it passed him and it worked.

"The score may have flattered us but we showed our spirit, fitness and character again.

"The gaffer rightly had a pop at us at half-time but after that I thought we played some great stuff.

"We are taking the Worthington Cup very seriously and couldn't really have proved it in any stronger way."

The City manager, Joe Royle, is concerned at the number of injuries his squad is picking up. Spencer Prior and Steve Howey have hamstring injuries which caused them to miss the game while Paulo Wanchope was sidelined with a knee injury.

Royle's problems increased with his goalkeeper, Nicky Weaver, and captain, Alfie Haaland, both struggling with groin problems.

Royle said: "The physio is going to be very busy trying to patch that lot up. We are rapidly running out of players."

Jim Smith, the Derby manager, watched his side bewilder and excite in their usual large measures at The Hawthorns as they overturned a first-leg deficit to advance into the third round.

Smith believes that amid the club's rollercoaster season he has discovered a potential international star of the future. He raved about the 20-year-old central defender Chris Riggott after his full debut yielded a goal, an assist and a towering rearguard performance which helped his side to a 4-2 win for a 5-4 aggregate win over West Bromwich Albion.

Smith revealed he had been on the phone to the England hierarchy earlier this week to mark his card about his find and then suggested on the strength of Tuesday's display that Riggott was now ready for his full Premiership bow.

"I have been on the phone to Howard Wilkinson about him - and that was before tonight," said a relieved Smith, revelling in his side's first win of a season which has yielded 18 goals in nine games.

"He had an excellent debut. We were under the cosh and we were going under a bit, and he stood up there, kept his composure, kept his head in the way and got his goal."

Smith hinted the youngster, a product of the Pride Park youth academy, would be rewarded with his full League debut at Aston Villa on Saturday.

"He's a confident young lad, he wants it and he's earned it today," he said. "He's earned every right to start in the Premiership."

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