Elliott Ward believes he is getting closer to his first goal for Norwich City – but defensive duties still rank as top priority.

City’s defenders have been getting on to the goalscoring chart this season with full-backs Russell Martin and Adam Drury and centre-backs Michael Nelson, Leon Barnett and Jens Berthel Askou all finding the net.

Ward has yet to open his account for the club, though he came very close to grabbing an equaliser against Portsmouth in injury time last Saturday when his goalbound header was kept out by the head of striker Dave Kitson.

“It was a shame because it was 1-0 at the time and if we’d have got the goal maybe we’d have gone on to win it or it would have been a good draw but Kitson just got there,” said Ward.

“It was a shame it didn’t happen but I feel I’m getting closer and closer. I’ve been attacking a bit more because sometimes we’ve been chasing the game.”

But with City failing to keep a clean sheet in eight games before today’s Championship trip to Ward’s former club, Coventry, his first concern was trying to register a shut-out at the Ricoh Arena.

“I’ve been venturing forward, which I don’t mind, but we’ll have to try to get back to clean sheets as well. I hope we get that at Coventry and I’d like to score,” he said.

Ward scored a penalty for the Sky Blues when they beat the Canaries 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on the opening day of 2008-09.

“Normally when players go back to their old club they do score but I don’t expect to. I just want to win and get the points for Norwich, then after the game wish Coventry all the best,” he said.

The 25-year-old Ward has missed just one first-team match since signing for the Canaries in May, and with Leon Barnett suspended, he was today expected to resume his central defensive partnership with Michael Nelson – cut short after just four matches in August by Nelson’s ankle injury.

“When me and ‘Nels’ were playing we were both happy and we started the season well,” said Ward.

“We know each other’s strengths and we’re both experienced enough to know what we have to do.

“It was unfortunate that he got injured so early on but ‘Barney’ came in and he has done brilliantly. So it’s a big game for Nels to come back into.”

Manager Paul Lambert’s injured list shows little sign of dwindling and, of the current absentees, only full-back Adam Drury is given a realistic chance of being involved in the Christmas and New Year programme after two months out with a calf injury.

Still sidelined are Zak Whitbread (hamstring), Steven Smith (hip), Stephen Hughes (ankle), Andrew Surman (knee) and Matthew Gill (calf).

With City sixth in the table before today’s Championship matches, Ward believes they can cope despite the injuries.

He said: “Going into the Christmas period it’s near enough a game every other day so the squad’s going to be important and I hope we just keep picking up points. If we do that we’ll definitely be in amongst it.”