Boro' recall defender Grounds
David Cuffley Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder has suffered a second major defensive blow in the space of 24 hours after Middlesbrough recalled Jonathan Grounds from his loan spell at Carrow Road.
Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder has suffered a second major defensive blow in the space of 24 hours after Middlesbrough recalled Jonathan Grounds from his loan spell at Carrow Road.
The 20-year-old Grounds, who was signed on a three-month deal and has appeared in the Canaries' last five Championship games, has been summoned back to the Riverside Stadium because Boro' boss Gareth Southgate has his own player shortage.
After confirmation that Dejan Stefanovic will serve a two-match ban for his red card in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Southampton, Roeder has to forge another different central defensive pairing for Saturday's Championship visit of Derby County.
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There is no recognised senior centre-back available to face the Rams. On-loan John Kennedy, out with ankle ligament damage, will be sidelined for at least another fortnight, while Gary Doherty has yet to appear this season after undergoing ankle surgery in the summer, and is at least three weeks away from a return to action.
It means on-loan Elliott Omozusi, who has switched from right-back to emergency centre-half in the last three matches, is likely to get another different partner against Derby.
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“We have been hit hard with a double whammy with Dejan out for two games and now Jonathan Grounds being called back to Middlesbrough,” said Roeder.
“I only found out at nine o'clock yesterday morning about Jonathan. He would have been playing here on Saturday.”
Boro' skipper Emanuel Pogatetz is serving a three-match ban for the red card that followed his controversial tackle on Manchester United's Rodrigo Possebon in the Carling Cup, while Andrew Taylor is having tests on a hip injury and Wales international defender Rhys Williams is the latest casualty with knee ligament damage.
“If I was Gareth I would do the same,” said Roeder. “I had a good chat with Gareth. He was happy to leave Jonathan here, his intentions were to leave him here. He had seen he'd been playing and Middlesbrough's scouts had been reporting back to Gareth that he'd been doing well, which he had.
“But unfortunately he's got an injury to the left-back, who's going to be out for a few weeks, and Pogatetz, the centre-half, is out for three games for a sending-off and he's been left short himself for defensive cover, so he must protect his corner, like I must protect my corner.
“But with Stefanovic out for two games and John Kennedy out for a few more weeks - we hope he will be fit for the game at Bristol City - and Doc probably another three weeks or so, we've suddenly been left very, very short.
“To think at one stage we were double-handed, and now the cupboard's been left bare. But that's life. It gives someone else an opportunity to play who hasn't been playing and I am sure that person will come in and play well and grab that opportunity.
“I am not giving any clues away as to who. I don't need to be helping anybody other than ourselves.”
On-loan Tottenham defender Troy Archibald-Henville, 19, is one possibility to step in but he has yet to make a senior appearance for City.
Or there could be a surprise early recall for Sammy Clingan, who has missed five games with the shoulder injury he suffered on duty for Northern Ireland last month. Midfielder Clingan was used in the centre of defence during City's pre-season programme.
“Sammy's made a great recovery, a fantastic recovery - he's got a genuine chance of being involved Saturday,” said Roeder. “He's been training all this week and he was out there yesterday morning with the group that trained. He's played centre-back also.”