Etuhu and Robinson give concern to midfield

PUBLISHED: 08:27 01 December 2006 | UPDATED: 09:52 14 September 2010

Norwich City's midfield could be ripped apart this weekend as injuries again hamper Peter Grant's preparations for to the trip to Sunderland.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City's midfield could be ripped apart this weekend as injuries again hamper Peter Grant's preparations for to the trip to Sunderland.

Grant may have to wait until tomorrow morning before he can name a side because of injuries to Dickson Etuhu and Carl Robinson.

The problem is exacerbated by Adam Drury's back injury - if the City skipper is ruled out Grant may have to move one of his midfield options, Andy Hughes into defence.

Grant is already without central defenders Gary Doherty (back) and Craig Fleming (hamstring), while Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby have both been in the treatment room this week, but are expected to play.

Etuhu is struggling with a foot injury, while Robinson has a calf problem and while Grant can call on Youssef Safri, his midfield selection problems are compounded by other issues.

For example, if striker Peter Thorne is unfit, Grant is unlikely to play two up front, which means he needs three midfielders. At the moment, he is only certain to have Safri, plus Hughes - if Drury gets a clean bill of health.

Grant seems to be suffering from the Noah's Ark injury syndrome - except that in his case, they're going out two at a time. Having seen two wide men out, then two centre backs, he is now sweating on two midfielders.

“That seems to be the way it's been, but there is nothing you can do about,” he said. “It would be nice if it was spread out a bit.

“Hopefully we can get one at least, that would be massive if we could get away with at least one of them because that would help us out. If Adam's out obviously I would need to tinker with the full-back positions which would leave me that midfield player short.”

Teenager Michael Spillane will come into Grant's thoughts, even though the Republic of Ireland youth international has played most of his recent football in defence, rather than midfield, while Rossi Jarvis has played left back too.

Robinson and Etuhu are rated 50-50, with Drury, who came off after just 20 minutes against Leicester on Tuesday, is 60-40 - against.

“He's not definitely out - but I am concerned because it's his back,” said Grant. “Players are desperate to play on, but that saved him a little so I'd say he's got a chance, a slight chance, because of the fact that he came off early in the game.”

Grant's hopes of playing the same formation which proved so successful against Leicester rest on Thorne, whose long list of injury problems meant Tuesday was his first start of the season.

“It's a difficult one with Thorney,” said Grant. “He was struggling before the game with his thigh but he was desperate to play. He didn't train no Tuesday morning, he came out for the set-plays but just walked through them, and I just want to see if his leg's ready for the game.

“I thought he did ever so well, but I have been here several weeks now and otherwise he's had one reserve game, plus a small period on Saturday and a small period at Port Vale. Prior to that he was out a few weeks so it is a lot of ask him and whether two quick games in succession would set him back is something I would have to look at over the next couple of days because I definitely need him in the side or being available for selection if he is 100pc.

“I just cannot take a chance if I play him and I feel he is going to pull something, just through tiredness, playing matches. I think it is always a difficult one that if you have just come back from a long-term injury. Sometimes the adrenalin gets you through the first one, it is the second, third and fourth ones that are the problem.

“It's a wee thing that's on my mind that I maybe have to change which is a bit of a problem because I want to play two strikers.”

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