It's Grounds for divorce for City defender

PUBLISHED: 08:35 28 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

Defender Jonathan Grounds has spoken of his disappointment at not being able to see Norwich City's relegation fight through to the very end.

The 21-year-old must return to Middlesbrough after the Canaries' Championship match at Blackpool next Saturday, which marks the end of his second loan spell of the season at Carrow Road.

Defender Jonathan Grounds has spoken of his disappointment at not being able to see Norwich City's relegation fight through to the very end.

The 21-year-old must return to Middlesbrough after the Canaries' Championship match at Blackpool next Saturday, which marks the end of his second loan spell of the season at Carrow Road.

But Grounds, with 13 appearances for City under his belt before today's visit of Coventry, said he would like to have stayed until May to help Bryan Gunn's men get out of trouble.

He said: “I spoke to the manager a few days ago about it and the rules say it's impossible to extend my loan so I'll be going back next weekend.

“But I'll try to do as much as I can while I'm here in the next three games to get good results.

“I'd love to be here until the end of the season to help the lads out as much as I can. It's going to be a tough 12 games to get through but the three games I'm here I'm going to give everything I've got to help the cause.”

City visit Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday before the trip to Blackpool next weekend, by which time Grounds is confident they will have begun to climb the table.

He said: “We've just been a little bit unlucky, I think. In the two boxes we need to be a little bit more ruthless, we need to defend a lot better and take a few more chances, but between that there's a lot of quality to get us out of the position we're in.”

The arrival of a former defender as assistant manager had provided valuable help to the back four, said Grounds.

“In the last few games we've been pretty solid,” he said. “Ian Butterworth came in, who was a centre-half here. He's been working a lot on the training field with the defenders on things like staying narrow, showing people wide, and it's been going pretty well.

“I think we've looked pretty solid in the last two games, only conceding two goals.”

Central defender Jason Shackell's return to Norwich, on loan from Wolves, has enabled Grounds to switch to his preferred position at left-back in the last two games.

He said: “I'm primarily a left-back. I've played many times at centre-half for Middlesbrough reserves and youth team, but I feel comfortable at left-back.”

He rejected the notion that City's loan players cared less about the club's fate than the permanent squad members.

“We've got as much to lose as everybody else,” he said. “We don't want to be part of a team that's relegated any more than the contracted players. There haven't been as many loan players in the team recently - me and Shacks have been the only two - but I think we've given everything to the cause.”

Middlesbrough coaches and scouts have been monitoring Grounds' progress at Norwich, but back at the Riverside Stadium, he may have the different challenges of an FA Cup run and another relegation fight to contend with.

Boro' visit Everton in an FA Cup quarter-final tomorrow week, but of more concern is the fact they were second from bottom of the Premier League ahead of today's home game against Liverpool.

Said Grounds: “I heard on the television last night that the last four teams that have knocked Middlesbrough out have made it to the FA Cup final. I hope this year we can make it to the final.

“But Middlesbrough are second bottom and have a very tough game at home to Liverpool. It's a big three points.”

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