Grant: Lack of reserve games a problem

PUBLISHED: 12:35 05 December 2006 | UPDATED: 09:53 14 September 2010

DAVID CUFFLEY

Manager Peter Grant lamented City's lack of reserve team matches as he bids to get senior players back into shape for first team football.

Manager Peter Grant lamented City's lack of reserve team matches as he bids to get senior players back into shape for first team football.

Club captain Craig Fleming and forward Ian Henderson were due to return to action in this afternoon's Pontin's Holidays Combination match against Colchester at Layer Road, while French full-back Matthieu Louis-Jean was also set to take another step on his long road to a senior recall.

Fleming has been out since the Coca-Cola Championship home game against Colchester on October 31 with hamstring trouble, Henderson has not played since September 19 after suffering knee ligament damage at Rotherham in the Carling Cup, and Louis-Jean has been sidelined by hamstring trouble since playing the first two games of last season - a lay-off of some 16 months.

City play just two reserve games per month and Grant said it did not help his players regain match fitness after injury.

He said: “I'm not a great advocate of playing first team players in reserve team away games but the lack of reserve games has been a problem. I know it's the rules and we just have to get on with it. But I may have to organise some friendlies just to give some players a game.

“Flem plays today in the reserve team. Henderson is also playing as a striker, which is where he wants to be judged, and it will great for me to be able to see Hendo in action for the first time.”

“Matthieu Louis-Jean has trained very well. It's been an absolute nightmare for him but I think he's only missed one training session since I came here and he was working with me on Friday and did very well.”

Defender Gary Doherty, however, is still some way short of a return after twisting his ankle in the 3-1 defeat at Ipswich more than a fortnight ago.

“Doc is a bit more of a problem for us than we thought and it's longer than expected,” said Grant.

However, defender Andrew Cave-Brown, sidelined since August with ankle ligament damage, and winger Lee Croft, out with a similar injury for the past five weeks, are both making progress.

“Cave-Brown may play in the youth team on Saturday,” said Grant.

“Crofty is looking great from a personal fitness point of view, but match fitness is a totally different thing.”

Dickson Etuhu, who has a sore foot, and Carl Robinson, with stitches in a cut below his right eye, should be available for the home game against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, but Youssef Safri is suspended.

“I should know more by tonight about where we stand for Saturday's game,” said Grant.

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