Holt is winning battle for fitness

PUBLISHED: 10:22 29 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:26 10 September 2010

Grant Holt has been sidelined with a thigh injury and has missed the three pre-season away games.

Grant Holt has been sidelined with a thigh injury and has missed the three pre-season away games.

Chris Lakey

Grant Holt is winning his race to be fit for the start of Norwich City's Championship season. The Canaries leading scorer has been sidelined with a thigh injury and has missed the three pre-season away games - at Stevenage, Dagenham & Redbridge and last night's goalless draw at Lincoln City.

Chris Lakey

Grant Holt is winning his race to be fit for the start of Norwich City's Championship season.

The Canaries leading scorer has been sidelined with a thigh injury and has missed the three pre-season away games - at Stevenage, Dagenham & Redbridge and last night's goalless draw at Lincoln City.

Holt watched from the stands as City drew another blank, but manager Paul Lambert says his talismanic skipper could be back for the big game against Watford at Carrow Road in eight days time.

“Grant's doing really fine at the minute - he's not match fit, but he's getting there and we will see how he does in the next week or so,” he said.

Stephen Hughes was back in action last night after an ankle problem and while Korey Smith and Zak Whitbread were still absent, the biggest problem appears to be left back Steve Smith, who has ankle ligament problems.

“Korey will be back hopefully not too long, and Zak is doing okay so we will see how they progress,” added Lambert. “The longest will be Steven Smith. I wouldn't say months, it depends on his rehab - but he's doing okay.”

Lambert believes there is parity in the fitness levels of his squad as the countdown continues. Many of his fringe players started last night, with Elliott Ward and Simeon Jackson given extra time to boost the minutes under their belts, while the big guns appeared later in the game.

Despite failing to beat Chris Sutton's League Two side, Lambert was happy with the exercise, saying: “I thought there were some good things there.It was a much-changed team from Saturday, some lads needed a run. I am reasonably happy with what they've done.

“It was a worthwhile exercise. A few of the young lads played which is pleasing - I am more than happy.”

Teenagers Josh Dawkin and George Francomb started as City went with a 3-4-3 formation - for 20 minutes.

“It was just too crowded in the middle so we tried to stretch the game,” said Lambert. “If we are going to try things that's the time to try them.”

New keeper John Ruddy was a spectator as Jed Steer played the full 90 minutes, proving the strength of the goalkeeping ranks.

“I'm delighted with the way Jed performed, even in the training camp,” said Lambert. “He has more than shown he can handle training and men's football. I am delighted with the goalkeepers we have got.

“What's happened with Fraser Forster is what always might happen - a goalkeeper gets injured a lad doesn't go out on loan. But I am delighted with what John Ruddy has done in pre-season.”

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