Alnwick doubts could hand Norwich debut to Rudd

Michael Bailey Teenage goalkeeper Declan Rudd could be on the verge of making his first team debut for Norwich City - and it might not just be dependant on Ben Alnwick's injury.

Michael Bailey

Teenage goalkeeper Declan Rudd could be on the verge of making his first team debut for Norwich City - and it might not just be dependant on Ben Alnwick's injury.

The 18-year-old Academy prospect was regularly involved in the Canaries' pre-season schedule, featuring on their tour of Scotland as well as impressing last season during the Under-18's run to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals, where City eventually succumbed to Manchester City.

Rudd could be given his chance as Norwich prepare for their return to League One action this Saturday, with the long trip north to face Hartlepool and summer signing Michael Theoklitos appearing to be out of favour with new manager Paul Lambert.

Two question marks hang over the head of Alnwick. The 22-year-old Tottenham stopper was taken off towards the end of City's Carling Cup exit to Sunderland on Monday night after a nasty clash with Fraizer Campbell left him with a gash on his face and, with Carrow Road remaining tight-lipped on the keeper's anticipated recovery time, Saturday's game may come too soon.

However, Alnwick could also be recalled by his parent club after reports yesterday suggested the former Sunderland keeper could be the subject of a �1m pre-transfer deadline move to Premier League new boys Burnley.

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Alnwick is little more than a third of the way through his three-month loan from White Hart Lane, meaning Tottenham can recall the goalkeeper at 24-hour's notice. Should the Clarets produce a bid to Spurs boss Harry Redknapp's liking, it may bring a premature end to Alnwick's Norwich City spell.

It is believed Owen Coyle would see Alnwick as ideal back-up to first choice Brian Jensen - and the move would improve Alnwick's chances of Premier League action, with him currently behind Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini at White Hart Lane.

But it remains to be seen whether Redknapp would consider permanently offloading the former England Under-21 keeper.

Rudd is likely to get the nod ahead of Theoklitos, who has not even appeared on the Norwich bench since Lambert to over the reins - having seen from the opposing dugout the Australian's only City performance to date, his 7-1 opening day disaster against Colchester.

All is also quiet on the fitness of midfielder Matty Gill, who has been out of action with an injury since coming off during the second half of Norwich's defeat at Brentford last Tuesday - the day of Lambert's appointment.

One man sure to miss out on a date at Victoria Park is Michael Spillane, who will serve his one-match ban on Saturday after his sending off on Monday night, which also brought about the clash between Alnwick and Campbell.

Spillane's absence will leave Lambert with a decision between Jens Berthel Askou, Michael Nelson and Gary Doherty for his centre-back pairing.

However, there was good news for the City Academy product, after he was called up for the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad to play Estonia on September 9, in their European Championship qualifier.

Burnley may yet play a part in another Canary departure, after Lambert confirmed want-away midfielder Darel Russell is not training with his Carrow Road team-mates.

The 28-year-old had also interested those at Turf Moor during the summer and Lambert said: "Darel has been training away; it's been unknown to me what's been happening.

"I think he wanted to leave the football club last season. I haven't had a chance to speak to him. I've been here less than a week and need to try to see everybody play before I make an assumption on people."