City boss tells of cover story
David Cuffley Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder is aiming to add another central defender to his squad before the end of the month - despite re-signing Middlesbrough's Jonathan Grounds on a two-month emergency loan.
Norwich City boss Glenn Roeder is aiming to add another central defender to his squad before the end of the month - despite re-signing Middlesbrough's Jonathan Grounds on a two-month emergency loan.
The 20-year-old made five appearances for the Canaries in September before his scheduled three-month loan was cut short when he was recalled by manager Gareth Southgate to cover for injuries.
Grounds, who can play at centre-back or left-back, is due to stay at Carrow Road until March 7, although Boro' will have a 24-hour recall after the first 28 days of the loan.
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He looks certain to go straight into the centre of defence alongside Gary Doherty for Saturday's Championship game at Sheffield United, but will not be available for the FA Cup, so he cannot play in Tuesday's third round replay at home to Charlton.
“I'm very grateful to Boro' for letting us have one of their best young players for two months,” said Roeder.
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“I am delighted. He's not for sale. He's a player that would command a high transfer fee and Gareth Southgate doesn't want to sell him. But Gareth wants him to get more first team experience and we can offer it here at Norwich and very much in a time where all the games are going to be very competitive, which is great for him as well.
“Gareth has bent over backwards to help us because Groundsy has played a few times since he went back and he has done well. We've watched him in all his reserve games and he's always been Boro's best player on the night.
“He'll be back to complete the rest of the emergency loan, so he's here for two months.
“That buys us more time to be looking for other central defenders. Ideally I'd like another one here before the end of January. What Jonathan has done is brought the numbers up to two natural centre-backs.”
Roeder was impressed with Grounds' contribution in his short stay.
He said: “He's got a good attitude, he's a good player. We have to give Boro' the 28-day recall and I understand that. If I was Gareth I'd be doing the same thing, but he's a very, very good young player and he's left-sided, naturally left-footed, which gives us balance in the team.
“He's here for two months at the maximum, but it buys us time to find others.”
With Dejan Stefanovic out for the rest of the season after a knee operation and John Kennedy back at Celtic after his loan spell was ended by a knee injury, Elliott Omozusi and Adam Drury have both been used in the centre of defence.
“Adam stepped in last week and didn't let anyone down but would be the first to admit he would struggle in the air, like anyone else would, giving five or six inches away to tall strikers,” said Roeder. “Elliott has stepped in and had his moments when he's done particularly well and there are times where he's shown his inexperience, as he did against Forest. But those two boys are full-backs, who are honest lads, trying to do a job in a different position. But really you want round pegs in round holes.”
Drury and Omozusi both suffered thigh injuries in the FA Cup game at Charlton and they were set to return to training today, along with winger David Bell, who missed the trip to The Valley with after turning his ankle over in training.
Said Roeder: “The country's been frozen this week. We're going to train at Carrow Road so we can get on to the grass for the first time since Charlton.
“We have been training all week in the dome but that's not ideal. It's not good for the players' joints. Ankles and knees suffer because the surface is hard, but at least we've been able to train. The players who have been injured have been with the physio all week. I expect them all to be able to train at Carrow Road.”