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Armstrong takes heart

English Barclays Premiership

Chris Armstrong takes heart from his rollercoaster ride last season. The hard-working hitman suffered the brunt of fans' frustrations before he struck a purple patch and won them back by the end of the season.

The 29-year-old was surfing a sea of criticism when he smashed home a half-volley against Liverpool on January 3. The boo-boys were still there though before he scored nine goals in a 13-game spell to take his season's tally to 14 and get most of the crowd back on his side.

"The second half of the season went well. It all started from scoring against Liverpool at home and I felt better physically and much fitter from there on in," admitted Armstong. "It was hard work and I was pleased to get through it, especially after having another operation last year.

"Steffen Iversen was carrying a couple of niggling injuries towards the end of the season but I felt good. Hopefully that will continue into next season. It's a long time since I've gone into pre-season training feeling this fit."

Armstong was backed to the hilt throughout the hard times by his manager, and George Graham remains full of praise for his striker's response.

"The decision he was faced with was whether to run away from the criticism or stand up to it," said the boss. "I thought he stood up to it magnificently and he was full of goals towards the end of the season.

"It wasn't really fair on the two strikers. Steffen Iversen could have scored more than 20 goals but tapered off towards the end. They scored 30 goals between them, which is a good return, but it was a long, hard season and we didn't have the strength in depth to give them a rest."

Photographs courtesy of Action Images Ltd.

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