NEW FACES FOR '95:Eadie and Ehiogu keep their feet on the ground

NEW FACES FOR '95: At Norwich City and Aston Villa, there are two young players aiming to set a fast pace in the Premiership Trevor Haylett talks to the young Canary who has wings on his heels
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He is a rarity: a footballer who arrives early for a newspaper interview, and also one whose presence causes hardly a stir in the hotel bar filling up with revellers.

Darren Eadie is reckoned to be the latest Canary to sprout golden wings, and who before long will have taken flight for the bigger nests elsewhere. Just 19, he has already been described by one opposing manager this season as "world class", although on this occasion he is almost anonymous in the crowd. In Norwich, they tend to grant aspiring headline makers deference and respect.

It is also true that in these parts a budding star is no longer possesses any rarity value. Not so long ago, Chris Sutton and Ruel Fox were at this same gateway to fame; before them, Dale Gordon and Justin Fashanu. Perhaps the Norwich fan keeps his distance because he knows one day his loyalty and support will be screwed up and thrown back in his face.

Not that Eadie is about to depart. There is still work to be done refining a still-raw talent, but the first signs are highly encouraging. Obviously there is pace - blinding pace. Coming along nicely are the control and technique that promise to make more threatening his ability to win time and space, while a sound temperament was evident early on.

Anyone who saw what was only his second full appearance for Norwich, the Uefa Cup tie with Bayern Munich, will testify to his composure under the brightest of spotlights.

"We had some injuries and I thought I was in with a chance of playing, but it was still a shock to be included against the likes of Lothar Matthaus," he recalls. The second shock was hearing that he was not in his normal wide position, but in a central role alongside Sutton. "The other lads were brilliant in helping me settle down, and it was a night I will never forget."

Through their conquest of Europe's former champions, he and a few others placed in ambitious minds thoughts that were not shaded yellow or green. Before long, Mike Walker and Fox had departed, and the money men had begun their courtship of Sutton.

Fox had a clause in his contract enabling him to talk to interested clubs, but another reason Norwich were willing to entertain Newcastle's offer was because Eadie was thirsting for a larger slice of the action. "This has always been a club that gives opportunities to young players, and it was one of the reasons I was happy to leave home and sign for them," he says.

That will always remain Norwich policy, and to drive the conveyor belt of new talent, they have recently invested more than £1m in a new complex offering impressive facilities for training, recreation and residential use.

All the players, from young recruit to senior campaigner, can share breakfast and lunch together. There is a swimming pool, plush changing-rooms, the latest medical equipment, and accommodation for 24 apprentices to live over the shop while they learn their trade. If mum and dad want to come and visit, there is room for them too.

"The only way a club like ours can survive is to bring through our own talent," the Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, says. "While our record is already pretty good, we want to do better. We have looked at how the top clubs do it and went to Bayern Munich,because we were told their record is best of all. We have modelled our new complex on theirs, and soon we will go and study Ajax's methods to see if we can learn from them."

Eadie, the Wiltshire son of a former jockey, and whose mother was a county sprinter, first came to prominence in rugby union, where he was commended by the former England scrum-half, Richard Hill, who happened to referee a school game.

Soon football was to exert an irresistible pull, and his talent was noted by Southampton, who brought him to their centre of excellence.

An eye-catching display in a fixture against the Norwich centre of excellence resulted in the offer of a job. His progress has been swift. After Queen's Park Rangers were undone by his running and trickery earlier in the season, Gerry Francis remarked that he looked a world-beater.

Followers of Crystal Palace still marvel at the 50-yard dash that set up Norwich's winner before Christmas, while England recognition arrived early with a place in last summer's prestigious Toulon tournament.

As his reputation grows so too do the dirty tricks aimed at stopping him. In the last week he has been floored by a body-check, which resulted in an FA Cup sending-off for the Grimsby defender Graham Rodger while a heavy tackle in the Coca-Cola Cup at Bolton on Wednesday saw him taken off on a stretcher with a badly bruised knee that keeps him out of today's game with Wimbledon.

"All in all I am quite pleased with how things are going," he said. "It's a really friendly club and the only way I will leave is if I'm unhappy." Always assuming that Norwich don't want to cash in, and make room for the next promising tiro.

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