The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ian Joseph

CARE­TAKER Alan Irvine in­sists he has not set his sights on the Nor­wich job full-time after draw­ing with Black­burn Rovers.

Alex Neil was sacked on Fri­day af­ter­noon but less than 24 hours later Nor­wich had a strong foothold in the game as Cameron Jerome opened the scor­ing on 19 min­utes.

But Mitchell Di­jks was sent off shortly after and two sec­ond-half Lu­cas Joao ef­forts looked set to hand Rovers all three points be­fore Jerome’s late lev­eller.

And Irvine ad­mits it is loy­alty to Neil that means he will not be look­ing to man­age the Ca­naries on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

“I will not be ap­ply­ing for the job,” Irvine said. “When I was brought in here I made it clear to Alex I was not a threat, as it might have looked with my age and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I can’t say that to him and then say I want his job when he leaves, be­cause that wouldn’t be right.

“If Nor­wich want me to stay in some ca­pac­ity go­ing for­ward I would cer­tainly be in­ter­ested in that, be­cause it's a great club, but not as man­ager.“My thoughts at the mo­ment are for Alex. I have thor­oughly en­joyed work­ing with him and have never re­gret­ted mov­ing 250 miles from home to come here. He is a tal­ented young man­ager and I am sure you will see him back in the game soon.”

Nor­wich put in a solid shift after be­ing placed firmly on the back foot by de­fender Di­jks. The on-loan Ajax star went over the ball and caught fel­low Dutch­man Marvin Emnes on the shin in the 21st minute and re­ceived a straight red card.

Care­less rather than ma­li­cious it might have been, but it was a crazy tackle given that the Ca­naries had only just taken the lead through Jerome’s 12th goal of the sea­son, a close-range ef­fort after goal­keeper Jason Steele had spilt a Josh Mur­phy cross.

To counter the dis­missal Irvine took off pop­u­lar mid­fielder Alex Pritchard to get re­place­ment left-back Steven Whit­taker onto the pitch.

A deaf­en­ing chant of ‘you don’t know what you’re do­ing’ erupted, fol­lowed by ‘sack the board’ later on.

But Nor­wich con­tin­ued to press and after half-time, raid­ing right-back Ivo Pinto’s thump­ing drive from a tight an­gle came back off an up­right.

The scene was then set for an­other Por­tuguese im­port to take cen­tre stage. Rangey front­man Joao had al­ready seen one ef­fort come back off the Nor­wich wood­work when he got his side back on level terms on 73 min­utes with a close-range fin­ish after be­ing set up by fel­low sub­sti­tute Con­nor Ma­honey.

He then quickly added a sec­ond, out-jump­ing Ryan Ben­nett at the back post to head Danny Gra­ham’s beau­ti­ful rightwing cross past Michael McGovern.

But Rovers were un­able to see the game out and dropped back into the bot­tom three as sub­sti­tute Ja­cob Mur­phy squared for Jerome to side­foot home via a slight de­flec­tion on 81 min­utes.

Rovers boss Tony Mow­bray said: “I am ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed to only come away with a point, con­sid­er­ing we had a man ad­van­tage for 70 min­utes and then man­aged to get our noses in front.

“Once we got our sec­ond we should have seen out the game but we were un­able to do that and it is un­doubt­edly two points dropped. But go­ing for­ward there are lots of pos­i­tives.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

DOU­BLE TROU­BLE: Cameron Jerome cel­e­brates his equaliser and, in­set, Black­burn’s Lu­cas Joao scores his sec­ond goal

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