Darel's the man - but will he play?

Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder sang the praises of midfielder Darel Russell today - but refused to confirm whether he would fielding his first-choice central midfield partnership at Coventry on Saturday.

Chris Lakey

Glenn Roeder sang the praises of midfielder Darel Russell today - but refused to confirm whether he would fielding his first-choice central midfield partnership at Coventry on Saturday.

Russell is available after a three-match ban, and has been staking his claim on the training fields of Colney for an immediate recall ahead of Matty Pattison and Kieran Gibbs.

“You can tell that by the way he is training, going round trying to get the other one injured to make sure he does play,” laughed Roeder.

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Russell, injury and suspension aside, has been a constant in the centre of the park since Roeder arrived in late October, and has established himself as a front-runner for the Player of the Season honours.

“He has high energy, certainly a desire to want to be a winner himself, which obviously helps the team,” said the City manager.

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“And we know he can chip in with a few goals. He is the one who has got licence when he plays to get into the box on every cross that goes in. Sometimes I think he can get in the box more often, but we are always encouraging him to get forward.

“Fozzy (Fotheringham) basically is the sitter, and he (Russell) is the sort of personality that any manager would like to work with because he is a player that gives his all every single game.

“Yes, he might sometimes mis-control the ball, he might give the ball away a few times more than he would like to, but I will have that at the moment because of his enthusiasm for playing football and wanting to be in the first team and help Norwich get up the table as high as they can. And he's very well respected in our dressing room.”

Darren Huckerby's groin injury is almost certain to rule him out, while Roeder has selection issues up front, where he has to decide whether or not to include leading scorer Jamie Cureton, whose equaliser at Watford in midweek was his third in as many games, or use him as an impact sub.

“Jamie's actually had a big impact when he's come on this year, once the game has stretched and there is a lot more space and room for him to play in,” Roeder said.

“It doesn't mean to say he can't complete 90 minutes like he did against Barnsley brilliantly, when he led the team. It's horses for courses - he was very unlucky to be left out (at Watford). I left him out because of who we were playing. And I knew the physical aspects of Watford's game meant that we needed to be as physically big and strong as we could because we knew how many set plays we would have to defend against and long throws in to the box from just over the halfway line.

“Obviously Ched (Evans) and Dion (Dublin) are a better option. I wouldn't say that was a negative approach - it is not a negative approach if those two help you stop two or three goals going in because you can't defend long throws and set plays, which overall we did.

“It doesn't mean to say he (Cureton) won't start against Coventry, who are a different animal.

“I want everyone to realise there is no shirt guaranteed. I'm not quite there yet because we haven't got enough players to let that happen, but it is a lot better than it was, that they are uncertain whether they are going to start, which I think is healthy. Keep them on their toes.”

The other issue is centre back, where Gary Doherty's position looks more guaranteed than that of his partner, which could be either Alex Pearce or Jason Shackell.

“Doc is the most experienced of the three and overall I can't tell you how pleased I have been with Doc's contribution since I have been here,” Roeder said. “Like the rest of them he has had the odd sloppy game, the odd game where he looks a little bit tired, then against Blackpool they all looked tried. Doc is using his experience to good effect, so just at the moment the other slot is between Shackell and Alex Pearce.”

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