Cotton wool time for City striker
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Norwich City may have to handle Cameron Jerome with extra care to ensure the Canaries frontman is able to spearhead the club’s promotion drive.
With Nelson Oliveira sidelined by a foot injury, extra responsibility has been placed on Jerome to lead City’s charge on the top six from the front.
Jerome did a sterling job in the 2-2 draw against Newcastle, scoring and generally running the Magpies’ back four ragged for much of the evening.
However, Alex Neil’s problem was demonstrated when a tired Jerome had to be substituted and replaced by Kyle Lafferty.
The Northern Irishman struggled to fill the void left by Jerome for the remaining 10 minutes, prompting concern amongst supporters how City would cope if Jerome was to suffer injury or loss of form.
Neil will provide an update on the fitness of Oliveira today, but the Portuguese striker is expected to be out for at least a month.
When Jerome lost form earlier this season, Neil was able to draft in Oliveira, who took up the goalscoring mantle, plundering eight goals since his first league start at QPR.
That luxury looks to have been taken away from City, meaning Jerome will have to be managed carefully physically to ensure he doesn’t suffer mid-season burnout.
Neil has said in the past that he isn’t convinced Lafferty can perform the all-action role he expects of his strikers so what are the other alternatives bearing in mind Carlton Morris is on loan at Rotherham for the rest of the season?
Steven Naismith could be deployed as a lone frontman, although whether he has the stature to perform such a role in the Championship is questionable. He is also sidelined with a hamstring injury at the moment but Neil has insisted it isn’t a “significant” injury.
Could one of the Murphys be used through the middle? Both have the pace and mobility that Neil likes his strikers to possess but would you want to take either away from the flanks where Jacob, in particular, has thrived this season?
It’s a tough one for Neil, who will be hoping Jerome can keep fit and firing whilst Oliveira recovers from injury.
City’s top-six berth could depend on it.