Doherty to return as City make changes
PUBLISHED: 12:57 15 December 2006 | UPDATED: 09:54 14 September 2010
City's starting line-up could show as many as five or six changes when they visit Southampton for Saturday's encounter. Peter Grant is forced to make at least two adjustments to the team beaten 2-1 at home by Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday, because of the end of goalkeeper Lee Camp's loan spell and a one-match ban for Jason Shackell.
City's starting line-up could show as many as five or six changes when they visit Southampton for tomorrow's Coca-Cola Championship encounter.
Manager Peter Grant is forced to make at least two adjustments to the team beaten 2-1 at home by Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday, because of the end of goalkeeper Lee Camp's loan spell and a one-match ban for central defender Jason Shackell.
Paul Gallacher, back in training after an ankle injury, will resume in goal in place of Camp, while Gary Doherty - who has missed four games with ankle and back trouble - looks favourite to replace Shackell.
But club captain Craig Fleming could also be drafted into the back four if Dion Dublin fails to shake off a groin strain.
And a further three changes are possible with midfielder Youssef Safri available again after a one-match suspension, winger Lee Croft desperate to return after missing eight matches with an ankle injury, and striker Robert Earnshaw hoping to overcome a knee injury after missing the game against the Owls.
“Earnie trained part of yesterday morning and I'm hoping, if there's no reaction, he'll be able to do full training today,” said Grant. “Dion did a little bit too, and Doc, Flem and Crofty all trained and are all fine.”
Grant seemed more optimistic about Earnshaw's chances than earlier in the week. It's a match where the Championship's two scorers could be on opposing sides, with 14-goal Grzegorz Rasiak leading the Saints' attack.
“I'll give Earnie as much chance as I possibly can because he's not going to have lost massive fitness. He trained up to Friday last week so it's not going to be a problem.”
Dickson Etuhu is expected to soldier on in midfield despite needing injections in a sore foot.
“Dickson's an important player. I know his performances have not been of the standard he set when first I came here, but he's still a big influence on the team, I feel. He's a very important player for me and I hope he gets over these wee knocks,” said Grant.
Defender Michael Spillane is another who could figure in the 16 after featuring in City's 5-1 FA Youth Cup win at Portsmouth on Wednesday night.
Southampton boss George Burley may consider a change in attack, where Kenwyne Jones could return at the expense of Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The Saints have three long-term absentees - centre-halves Michael Svensson and Darren Powell, yet to play this season, plus midfielder Djamel Belmadi, who has an ankle injury.
Grant said he had always expected sixth-placed Southampton to be among the promotion contenders.
“While I started the season at West Ham, looking at squads in the Championship you think of clubs who will be up there challenging and Southampton are right at the top of that pile,” said Grant.
“They have got very good players, they have got guys who have done it at a higher level and guys who have done it at this level consistently.
“They have a coach in George who has seen it in the Premiership, the Championship for a long time, and had great success at both Ipswich and Derby. He went up to Hearts and did exceptionally well, so he has a fantastic track record himself for bringing good players in and organising his team well.
“They are a bit like everybody else in the Championship, they are more than capable of turning you over - but we go there with a no fear element either.
“No matter what team I put out, I expect the team to go there and win the game.”