Crunch time for Canaries

David Cuffley Manager Bryan Gunn may be forced to bring his full squad into play as Norwich City prepare for four crunch matches in the next 12 days in a steep uphill battle to avoid relegation.

David Cuffley

Manager Bryan Gunn may be forced to bring his full squad into play as Norwich City prepare for four crunch matches in the next 12 days in a steep uphill battle to avoid relegation.

Saturday's 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Coventry left the Canaries second from bottom of the Championship, four points adrift of 21st-placed Nottingham Forest from the same number of games, and facing an increasingly desperate fight to avoid dropping into League One.

City were the only side in the bottom eight to lose on a day when results elsewhere proved disastrous for their survival chances, with wins for Southampton, Forest, Plymouth, Barnsley and Watford, and excellent away draws for Blackpool and even bottom club Charlton.

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Gunn has made minimal changes in the past few matches and made just one alteration to his 16 for the Coventry game, when Alan Gow replaced fellow loan striker Chris Killen on the bench - without getting on.

But he insists that the whole senior squad must be ready to be called upon during a hectic schedule, which resumes against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road tomorrow (8pm).

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Gunn was checking on a few knocks from Saturday's defeat over the weekend before deciding on his travelling squad.

He said: “Even before the game it was important that I stressed that I had six more players in the dressing room, a 22-man squad, who will all be in contention for places.

“We have a period of games now, Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, and who knows what the line-up will be until we assess those bumps and bruises. That's something we need to look at once we know who's on the training pitch.”

On-loan trio Killen, David Carney and Adrian Leijer failed to make the 16 against Coventry, with out-of-favour midfielder Matty Pattison and Simon Lappin among the manager's other senior options.

After seven matches without a win, the initial optimism generated by Gunn's first four matches in charge has given way to an air of resignation among supporters, who see their club slipping out of the top two divisions for the first time in 49 years.

But Gunn said he was determined to stay positive in the days ahead.

He said: “It starts from me. I need to be as positive and focused as I have been from the beginning. I was under no illusions it was a difficult job and I wasn't taking anything for granted whatever.

“We are where we are because of results which have happened already this season. We just need to keep grinding away and hope that it's going to turn somewhere.

“Eleven games, 33 points, there are a lot of points there. The disappointing thing today is we didn't take anything from the game in which for major parts we dominated.

“We had a chat after the game. We've had an open floor, giving them an opportunity to speak out, and a few of the players did, which I was happy with.

“There was no hiding. People wanted to say things and they were given an opportunity to do so. What was said will remain within our dressing room.

“And we hope that everyone will react to that and we get on with our job again on Tuesday and hope that we can turn things around.”

Gunn has to decide whether to make changes in attack after Jamie Cureton missed a golden chance to mark his 100th appearance for the club with a goal.

“He will be dejected - I know Jamie and I know he will be disappointed if he misses chances,” said Gunn, who nevertheless praised supporters for their vocal backing.

He said: “The crowd really got behind us. I know the Barclay end were doing their utmost in the first half. That was something I was conscious of, even though we were 1-0 down. The majority of the fans stuck with us.”

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