Carney kick it? Oh, yes he can

David Cuffley Winger David Carney could be handed a key role as Norwich City's survival mission enters its final week. The Canaries can move out of the bottom three in the Championship if they beat promotion-chasing Reading in their final home match of the season tonight.

David Cuffley

Winger David Carney could be handed a key role as Norwich City's survival mission enters its final week.

The Canaries can move out of the bottom three in the Championship if they beat promotion-chasing Reading in their final home match of the season tonight (7.45pm).

And City know that if they win both their remaining games - with a trip to relegated Charlton wrapping up the campaign on Sunday - they will stay up.


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But manager Bryan Gunn has some vital decisions to make on the selection front for this evening's televised game at Carrow Road with on-loan striker David Mooney unable to play against his own club and winger Lee Croft given less than a 50-50 chance of recovering from a calf injury - which is where Carney could come in.

The 25-year-old Australian international, on loan from Sheffield United, has started just three matches since arriving at the end of January and, after featuring in the Easter Monday home win over Watford, he was left out for the derby at Ipswich eight days ago.

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But Croft's injury and a possible switch to a central striking role for Alan Gow could leave either wide position available to Carney - and he can hardly wait for the chance.

“I don't think I've been in a bigger match in club football, to be honest, so if selected I'm raring to go. It's a massive match for a massive club,” he said.

“I don't think the gaffer needs to have a team talk because I think we'll all be fired up.

“I was disappointed last week but I think it was because of the loan rules he left me out of the squad.”

Whatever happens, City cannot be relegated tonight, even if they are beaten, but their task may be made more difficult by the fact that Reading can still finish second after Birmingham's home defeat by Preston.

Carney said a repeat of the Canaries' last home performance was exactly what they needed to secure three points.

“In the last game at home we put on a good performance against Watford and with the fans we have, with a full house every game, they deserve to stay in this league and we need to show that in these next two games,” he said.

“Plymouth and Barnsley play each other on the last day and one of them is bound to drop points so if we win both games we'll stay up.”

Croft was recalled to the starting line-up at Ipswich after being named among the substitutes for the previous two games, but he succumbed to a calf injury in the second half of City's 3-2 defeat and was replaced by Cody McDonald.

Gunn had hoped the 23-year-old Croft would train on Saturday, but he had to miss the session at Carrow Road.

“Crofty is 50-50, probably not even good as that. We'll have to wait and see but it's not looking great,” said Gunn.

Defenders Adam Drury (sore throat) and Adrian Leijer (sore foot) also missed training on Saturday but both should be available tonight.

Mooney's absence could mean 22-year-old McDonald, with five appearances as a substitute under his belt, making his first start, while Gow and Jamie Cureton - who has not featured in the 16 for nine matches - are other options alongside Lee.

“We knew David wasn't going to be playing and we will have to make sure we have people we feel will go out and do a job,” said Gunn.

“Cody will come into our thoughts. Jamie has been training with us and will continue to train with us and might well have a part to play. Alan Gow is another who has played up front, so we have got options.

“We have David Carney and Simon Lappin so we have options in wide areas as well - it's down to us to get the shape and the balance right.”

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