Croft losing fitness battle

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:14 10 September 2010

Player of the season Lee Croft may have played his last game for Norwich City after manager Bryan Gunn admitted the winger was 'unlikely' to run out at Charlton tomorrow.

Player of the season Lee Croft may have played his last game for Norwich City after manager Bryan Gunn admitted the winger was “unlikely” to run out at Charlton tomorrow.

Croft's contract is up in the summer and while talks have been postponed to concentrate efforts on the relegation battle, they are expected to resume next week.

However, with a host of Championship and Premier League clubs sniffing around, the assumption is that the popular 23-year-old will be on his way should City be relegated.

Croft missed the home defeat by Reading on Monday after suffering a calf injury at Ipswich a fortnight ago.

“He's been out training with (physio) Simon Spencer, but probably not going to have enough in the tank to give us a full 100pc,” said Gunn.

“He's still go another two days of training to go. He was 50-50 last week but I think he's unlikely this week.

“There is still some pain that he has got there when he's doing his rehab. He is trying to build up the work he does but he's still finding it difficult to do it flat out, 100pc and obviously we will need every fit body on the pitch that we can muster on Sunday.”

Central defender Jason Shackell resume training yesterday after suffering tight hamstrings on Monday, while Jon Otsemobor and keeper David Marshall have suffered no problems after reporting in with dead legs.

Croft's likely absence means Gunn may have to continue with David Carney on the right flank and Alan Gow coming in from the left, although neither set the place alight on Monday.

David Mooney is back in contention after missing the game against parent club Reading, but Gunn now has to make what he admits is an awkward choice between him and Cody McDonald, who started on Monday.

“He (Cody) was excellent - energy and enthusiasm,” said Gunn.

“It's one that we need to look at. David Mooney has done well for us so that's an awkward decision to make, but it's a good one because Cody can go in there and pick up the mantle, so it's a good position to be in.

“I think his whole enthusiasm since he's come to the club was shown on the pitch on Monday night. I'm sure Norwich City fans will be hoping to see more of that and if we can polish him up a little bit in terms of technique and his touch and different things there will be a hell of a player there.”

City struggled to get crosses into Alan Lee on Monday so there may be a pale on the left for Simon Lappin, who is desperate to prove to Gunn he is worth a new contract.

“Two days to go now and there are still opportunities for the players,” Gunn said.

“I want players on the pitch that believe we will win our game and also believe that Plymouth will beat Barnsley.

“I want positive people out there that will fight and battle right to the last minute to make sure this club gets a victory on Sunday and gives us a chance to win the game.

“One of the reasons we didn't get crosses in the other night is they (Reading) are a very good defensive unit. It wasn't us not getting to the byline or taking people on.

“Defensively Reading were very good, so we were reduced to long-range efforts, but there was a lot of good build-up play up until the 18-yard line and then we didn't get past them or they stopped us getting past them.

“We hope that Sunday will bring us different options and there will be more crosses going into the box. We didn't have any set-plays in the first half the other evening so again we need to put pressure on Charlton if we can because set-plays have been a feature of our recent goalscoring and exploits so we need to get into areas of the pitch in the final third which will give us the best chance to do that.”

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