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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 25, 2007

Eriksson standing by £9m signing Bianchi

Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Rolando Bianchi is ready to start justifying his hefty price tag.

Eyebrows were raised when Eriksson persuaded City owner Thaksin Shinawatra to splash out almost £9million on the Italian striker, who had been something of a journeyman before he plundered an impressive 18 Serie A goals for unfashionable Reggina last season.

Fears over his pedigree were eased when he enjoyed an impressive pre-season but, after scoring on his Premier League debut against West Ham in August, his form suffered a dip and most of his action since has come from the bench.

Eriksson has, however, guaranteed the 24-year-old a start when Norwich visit Eastlands in the Carling Cup this evening and clearly believes he is on the verge of fulfilling his potential.

He said: 'Bianchi had some problems to settle in, but I hope he will get over that and show us that he is the goalscorer we wanted to have.

'I'm sure he will come - he works very hard in training.'

Eriksson added: 'He is happy here. It is even more difficult for a striker when they come here from another culture, another way of playing football.

'If you are a striker in the Premier League, you have to be really into it because the pace is so quick. In all the European leagues, you have more time than you have here. I think it takes a little time to get that.

'It is a little bit my fault because I play only one striker so I have to see who is the best.

'I'm not worried for Bianchi, he is a hard, hard fighter. He is physically very strong.'

Eriksson is planning to hand starts to several fringe players in tonight's third-round tie against the Coca-Cola Championship strugglers, with midfielder Geovanni and goalkeeper Joe Hart confirmed alongside Bianchi in the Swede's XI.

For Hart in particular the pressure to put in a good performance against the Canaries will be intense given the competition for the number one jersey at City.

Sweden international Andreas Isaksson was expected to be first in the queue this season, but injury to both him and Hart allowed the previously unheralded Kasper Schmeichel to press his claims.

He did so with aplomb, to the point where he has become a fixture in City's Premier League team, earning a new four-year contract at the weekend.

'I don't know really who is our best goalkeeper at the moment,' admitted Eriksson.

'It's very difficult and is a very special position. You don't change keeper every week and have to stick to them for a longer time.

'I think he (Schmeichel) has been doing very well so far. The other two are super-fit now and Hart wants to show me and my coaches that he should have Kasper's place. But that's healthy competition.'