Brown hoping to play a part on Saturday

Striker Chris Brown is hoping to return to first-team action for Norwich City ahead of schedule - possibly as part of the squad for tomorrow's trip to promotion-chasing Cardiff.

Striker Chris Brown is hoping to return to first-team action for Norwich City ahead of schedule - possibly as part of the squad for tomorrow's trip to promotion-chasing Cardiff.

Brown was back in training yesterday as the Canaries prepare for the Coca-Cola Championship match at Ninian Park (3pm).

The 22-year-old former Sunderland man is making a quicker than expected recovery from the hamstring problem that ruled out of the last three matches after he was forced off at half-time in the 1-1 draw against Coventry a fortnight ago.

He said: “I feel a lot better now. The hamstring is a lot easier and I'm glad to be back in training because I don't think I was due to be back until next week. When I first did it, it was due to be a longer spell but it's settled down and it's a lot easier.

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“It wasn't actually a hamstring strain, it was more coming from my back, a neural thing. It tightened up really badly in the Leeds game and just felt really uncomfortable for a couple of weeks. I couldn't really do anything. But now, touch wood, everything's OK and I can get back involved.

“I'm just hoping to get through today and see what happens, whether I travel or not.”

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But Brown was quick to pay tribute to the man who has shouldered much of the attacking burden in his absence, 18-year-old Chris Martin, who has scored five times in the last seven games.

“He's been brilliant,” said Brown. “He's taken the step up as if it's just another everyday thing.

“He doesn't seem fazed by anything because when you're a young lad playing reserve team games, it's a massive step up. But he's taken that step up and he's been brilliant. Every time he gets in those positions he puts it away at the moment, so I'm delighted for him.”

After having to watch martin's exploits, Brown is hoping his own first goal for the Canaries is not too far away.

“Once the first goes in you feel you can get more, so that's what I'm looking for,” he said.

He reckons City are more than capable of a third successive away win.

“Cardiff have some good players but so have we. We can go there with a lot of confidence because we're a good side when we want to be.

“People kept saying the performances were good but we're just glad that we got the two wins against Luton and Barnsley. I think we've shown we can perform against the best teams.”

Manager Peter Grant said Brown and winger Luke Chadwick could both figure in his plans for the trip to South Wales.

“Chris Brown is a possibility. He's doing some training which is another positive because we thought it would be longer. He's recovering quite quickly,” said Grant.

“Chadwick has had 10 days' constant training. I felt putting him on the bench at Barnsley on Saturday was a gee-up for him, the fact he had worked so hard to get back and we knew he had trained well on Thursday and Friday.”

In midweek, however, he was not included among the substitutes against Derby because he had been pencilled in for a reserve outing at Luton.

Said Grant: “I felt getting 45 minutes out of him in actual match time would have been more important than sitting on the bench and maybe getting 10 or 15 minutes, but unfortunately the game was called off so he did a training session instead.”

Grant was set to make a late check on the fitness of Adam Drury (sickness), Darren Huckerby (calf injury) and Chris Martin (ankle) - as well as Dickson Etuhu and Simon Lappin with knocks - before settling on his squad.

But despite preparing for their eight match in 25 days, the City boss said they could hardly wait to get the defeat by Derby out of their system.

He said: “We want a game as quickly as we possibly can because we've lost. I'm a great believer in that.”

There are still three games to play in eight days before a fortnight's break.

Said Grant: “It's not the fact of the amount of games we've had, it's the downtime and the travelling. You're travelling from here constantly and you come back at four and five in the morning - supporters know that. After playing a game, sitting on the bus that length of time is not ideal.

“Then there's the recovery the next day. So they've been in every day - they've been in Sundays, which nine times out of 10 you'd give them off. You'd usually give them Wednesday off but we've had to bring them in to assess them because we don't know what players we have available, so they've had no time away from the training ground or the stadium, and that makes it a little bit more difficult for them.

“The reason I want the break is to give them a bit of respite from it, but we know sometimes that's impossible.”

Cardiff boss David Jones has a fully-fit squad to choose from. Defender Darren Purse is available again after a back injury, but is unlikely to figure in the 16. The main danger man is 21-goal striker Michael Chopra.

“Chopra's a terrific player, I always felt so when he was at Newcastle,” said Grant. “He's one of these people if you give him chances, he will score goals, but he's got a good foil in Steve Thompson, who I know from his time in Scotland.

“But he would not be scoring goals if he was not getting the service so we know they're a good side.”

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