Leon poised to return
PUBLISHED: 07:15 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:12 14 September 2010
Leon McKenzie is poised to make a timely return from injury at the weekend as the under-pressure Canaries go looking for a much needed victory. The injury-plagued striker has now shrugged off the second ankle injury of a bitterly disappointing campaign and provided he proves his fitness in training today he will be in the squad for Norwich City's first visit to Hull's new KC Stadium.
Leon McKenzie is poised to make a timely return from injury at the weekend as the under-pressure Canaries go looking for a much needed victory.
The injury-plagued striker has now shrugged off the second ankle injury of a bitterly disappointing campaign and provided he proves his fitness in training today he will be in the squad for Norwich City's first visit to Hull's smart new KC Stadium.
With Peter Thorne also hoping to be involved after missing the depressing defeat against Ipswich with a bout of sickness, manager Nigel Worthington should have no fewer than six experienced front-men at his disposal at the weekend, with Robert Earnshaw, Jonatan Johansson, Darren Huckerby and Paul McVeigh also fit and raring to go.
That would leave the City boss with options aplenty for the showdown on Humberside - and while he wasn't looking that far ahead yesterday he was clearly delighted at prospect of having two key men back sooner rather than later.
“There's certainly a possibility of Leon being in the squad for Saturday,” he said. “He has been training very well this week and I'll have another look at him before deciding whether he travels with us or not.
“I hope the lad is ready - because having him back would be good for us.
“As for Peter he would have been involved against Ipswich had he been fit. He is now back in training and if he does as well as he did today then there should be no problem for the weekend.”
Worthington revealed yesterday that McKenzie would have made his comeback for the reserves on Tuesday had their match at Southampton not been postponed - and went on the praise the striker's fortitude in the face of some unwanted tabloid headlines about his private life.
McKenzie's former wife went public with various allegations a couple of weeks ago, prompting the player to issue a statement via his agent. But since then he has been concentrating purely on his football and now appears to be reaping the benefits of his single-minded approach.
“Leon has coped with what has happened very well,” he said. “He has just got his head down and got on with his work. He has devoted all his energy to getting fit again and now he is close to being available again.
“He just needs to get up to good levels of fitness and then he will be up and running.
“It's a shame that the reserve game on Tuesday was called off because he would have had a little part of that.”
If McKenzie does return at the weekend, after seven games on the sidelines, it will almost certainly be via the substitutes' bench, with new signings Johansson and Earnshaw likely to be leading the line in a game that has taken on added significance since the derby defeat - and the fans' protests that followed it.
Worthington was critical of his players after the game, and made his feelings known in the dressing room. But that all appears to be water under the bridge now and he will be giving them his full support as they attempt to get a terrible result out of their systems.
“There was a feeling of great disappointment and frustration on Sunday afternoon, and rightly so,” he said. “That's all of us - players and staff. From our point of view we have got to keep the believe in the players and make sure they are right for Saturday.
“We have got to give them all the support and encouragement we can, and, as a staff, that is exactly what we are doing. They are the lads who have got to go out and do it on Saturday. It's a little bit nervy for them at the moment. We just want them to go out and relax and play how they can play.
“Before Reading we had been doing very well away from home - and we want to get back to that at the weekend.”