Safri ruled out for rest of season

PUBLISHED: 10:45 10 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:21 14 September 2010

Norwich City will be without the services of one key player for the remainder of the season - and are sweating on the fitness of another. Nigel Worthington revealed at the weekend that the stomach injury which kept Youssef Safri out of action at Preston was, in a fact, a gall bladder problem which would require surgery.

Norwich City will be without the services of one key player for the remainder of the season - and are sweating on the fitness of another.

City boss Nigel Worthington revealed at the weekend that the stomach injury which kept Youssef Safri out of action at Preston was, in a fact, a gall bladder problem which would require surgery. The Moroccan international has a hospital date today and will miss City's final four games of the season as he sets off on the road to recuperation.

Leon McKenzie should certainly be fit to feature before the end of the campaign after hobbling off after just 11 minutes of Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Deepdale following a painful knock on the hip. But Worthington was unwilling to put a timescale on his recovery after the game, and it will be a case of wait and see as far as that particular injury is concerned.

Safri's situation was cleared up when the manager disclosed the reason he had seen a specialist earlier in the week.

"Youssef is having a gall bladder operation on Monday afternoon which will rule him out for the rest of the season," he said. "It is something that has been aggravating him so it is was a question of getting him tidied up.

"Getting to the root of the problem has put his mind at rest and now it is a case of getting it sorted out as soon as possible."

The 28-year-old playmaker has been dogged with fitness problems this season and has missed a number of games as a result.

International commitments have also played a part in a stop-start campaign, with a total of 26 starts a disappointing tally for such an influential performer. Worthington is hoping the operation will enable the player to put his problems behind him and start afresh in August.

"Hopefully with a bit of good work over the summer Youssef will be 100 pc ready to start pre-season training," he said.

While Safri was back in Norfolk steeling himself for surgery, McKenzie was in the wars at Deepdale, with an untidy challenge from Jamaican international Claude Davies bringing his afternoon to a premature conclusion.

It was the last thing the striker needed after only recently returning to the starting line-up following the best part of five months out with ankle problems - and although he was on his feet after the game it's too early to say whether he will be fit for Saturday's trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

"Leon got a nasty knock in the hip, lower back area," explained Worthington. "It is very tender at this moment in time so we will have to see how it settles down over the next few days."

With Saturday's defeat ruling out even a mathematical chance of reaching the end-of-season play-offs, the Canaries have nothing to play for but pride now - and there's a chance the City manager could use the situation to his advantage by giving a chance to one or two young players.

Michael Spillane, Joe Lewis and Rossi and Ryan Jarvis are among those who will be hoping for a taste of the action between now and the end of the month - and their manager confirmed he would be weighing up the pros and cons of such a move.

"We will have to see about that because you have got to be careful with the youngsters," he said. "You have got to get the timing right. You have to consider whether they should play their games at home or away, that sort of thing. But it is certainly something we will be looking at."

Worthington made it clear that he would be looking for top quality performances against Sheffield Wednesday, QPR, Cardiff and Wolves - no matter who was in the team.

"If there are games left you are always playing for pride anyway, individually and collectively," he said. "We have got four games left to play and we would like as many points from them as possible."

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