Grant won't risk fitness of new signings

PUBLISHED: 14:50 09 July 2007 | UPDATED: 10:22 14 September 2010

DAVID CUFFLEY

Norwich City's summer signings may be kept under wraps when their pre-season schedule kicks off at Exeter next weekend.

Diehard fans making the long journey to Devon for the Canaries' friendly at St James' Park on Saturday (3pm) may have to wait a few days longer for their first glimpse of some of manager Peter Grant's close seasons captures.

Norwich City's summer signings may be kept under wraps when their pre-season schedule kicks off at Exeter next weekend.

Diehard fans making the long journey to Devon for the Canaries' friendly at St James' Park on Saturday (3pm) may have to wait a few days longer for their first glimpse of some of manager Peter Grant's close seasons captures.

Grant has added five new names to his senior squad and is poised to make it six with Czech striker David Strihavka expected to complete his move from Banik Ostrava.

But the City boss is unwilling to risk any unnecessary knocks and strains until he is satisfied his new recruits' fitness is on a par with that of his existing players.

He said: “There are some of the boys I won't use in the first game because I feel there's fitness work still to go in there, especially some of the new boys.

“I'll look at them and see where they are because our plans may be different from the ones they've had. So I've got to make sure their fitness levels are up because the last thing I need is injuries from them.”

Goalkeepers David Marshall and Matthew Gilks, defender Jon Otsemobor, midfielder Julien Brellier and striker Jamie Cureton are undergoing similar fitness tests to City's current players.

Said Grant: “Next week it's important for us to get playing but it's more important that I select players that are able to play.

“Some of the new signings won't play in the first game, that's for sure. I've made that vow to the players, if they're not ready to play in the first game for whatever reason.

“All their fitness tests will dictate that because once their fitness tests are done I'll know exactly where they are compared to the boys that we have.

“The new boys will see where they are because they've got different fitness programmes to the ones that we've had. That's what I've just got to monitor over the next few days.

“They may surprise me and be available next weekend, but that will be dictated over the next four days. When they've been working, I'll know exactly where they are and if it means missing the game next week, there are the two games against Lowestoft and King's Lynn.

“I'm not just going to do it for the sake of doing it. If the tests dictate to me that they're OK, I'll play them for part of it.”

He said the two-match trip to Holland in the last week of July was the main target for his new signings.

“Maybe I'll give them a part of the midweek games, but they've got to be ready for Holland, that's for sure. For me that's the most important thing - getting their legs going for the Holland games because it's most important everybody's available for the eleventh of August.”

Grant also plans to ease his squad into action with seven pre-season games lined up.

“I can't afford anybody playing 60, 70 minutes or 90 in the first game. That would be absolutely crazy. I'm not going to put anybody in jeopardy of not being able to start the season,” he said.

Pre-season matches - Saturday, July 14: Exeter (a). Tuesday, July 17: Lowestoft (a). Wednesday, July 18: King's Lynn (a). Saturday, July 21: Apeldoorn (Harderwijk, Holland). Wednesday, July 25: FC Zwolle (Harderwijk, Holland). Tuesday, July 31: West Ham (h). Friday, August 3: Vitesse Arnhem (h).

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