Grant on crock watch, yet again

PUBLISHED: 13:38 01 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:47 14 September 2010

DAVID CUFFLEY

City swapped their attacking injury woes for a defensive fitness headache as two home points went begging against Colchester United. The Canaries finished their 1-1 draw with Colchester United with Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming on the treatment table and both doubtful for Saturday's visit of Sunderland.

City swapped their attacking injury woes for a defensive fitness headache as two home points went begging against Colchester United last night.

While forwards Darren Huckerby and Robert Earnshaw beat the odds to return to the starting line-up against the U's, the Canaries finished their 1-1 draw at Carrow Road with central defenders Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming on the treatment table and both doubtful for Saturday's visit of Roy Keane's Sunderland.

Doherty had to make way for Fleming at half-time because of a back problem. The club captain then pulled a hamstring in the second half and was struggling for the final 10 minutes.

Manager Peter Grant said: “Gary was struggling with his back before the game - he had a bit of stiffness and he couldn't continue in the second half.

“Craig had to come on and did well in the second half, then he gets injured, he ends up doing his hamstring. That's why we had to try and shove him up the pitch for the last five or 10 minutes when he was pulling his hamstring. So it's a worry for us that we've got both centre-backs struggling now. Hopefully, one of them can make the weekend.”

Grant said Huckerby, who had a back problem, and Earnshaw, who had a rib injury, had been selected after making a dramatic improvement on the morning of the match. On Monday, both had been rated 70-30 against playing.

“The two boys were desperate to play,” said Grant. “Half past nine this morning was the first we knew there was a possibility, because yesterday they weren't playing. They got in this morning and felt a lot better, and we played them but you could tell they didn't have their usual sharpness.

“They're stiff, they're sore. Hucks was dead on his feet with 25 minutes to go. But that's the spirit within the group. The boys are desperate to play. I can't fault them for that. That's why I gave them the chance until the last moment this morning. I thought it was worth taking the risk. It could have worked if we'd done things properly in the first half.”

Grant said City's poor first-half display had cost them the chance of victory over their East Anglian rivals.

He said: “We're very, very disappointed because we didn't start the game well. The amount of times we gave the ball away in the first half was unbelievable. If you keep giving the ball away, you're not going to create chances, you're not going to be a threat, and you're also going to give the opposition a chance.

“Thankfully, Paul Gallacher was in good form and in the first half he kept us in the game.”

It was, he said, definitely two points lost.

“It was a home game against Colchester - no disrespects to them but if we lose points at home I'll be very, very disappointed.

“This morning in training the players never gave the ball away once. If they'd have taken that on to the pitch this evening, there would only be one team sitting here talking about a great victory.”

The game was not without its controversy, and City players felt Jamie Cureton's goal for Colchester should have been ruled offside.

Said Grant: “I thought it was offside at the time, but it probably wasn't because Jamie Cureton's so good at that - great at sniffing out chances, a typical predator, something that Robert Earnshaw does. I wouldn't be surprised if it was onside. Jamie's always a threat, a major threat in this division.”

As tempers became frayed in the second half, Grant also indulged at one stage in a shoving match with Colchester boss Geraint Williams in his technical area.

“That was my fault. The ball was behind Geraint and I thought he was trying to keep it away and I apologised to Geraint after that,” said Grant.

“I was more disappointed with Mick Harford. He was saying it was a long-ball game in the second half. That's somebody who played for Wimbledon!”

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