Doc and co are on the mend

DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City's end-of-season casualties will all be fighting fit to return to the fray when full training resumes in midsummer.


Norwich City's end-of-season casualties will all be fighting fit to return to the fray when full training resumes in midsummer.

Club physiotherapist Neal Reynolds reported that defender Gary Doherty, winger Luke Chadwick and striker Chris Brown had already made good recoveries from the injuries that forced them to miss the closing weeks of the 2006-07 campaign, while midfielder Youssef Safri and striker Robert Earnshaw - who featured in the last five games after a three-month lay-off - will be heading off on international duty during the summer break.

Doherty missed the final five matches of the season after a hernia operation, Safri was out for the same five games with hamstring trouble, Brown's last appearance was in February before he was sidelined by hamstring and back problems, and Chadwick was ruled out of the final six games by a thigh strain.

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But Reynolds, guiding the walking wounded back to fitness at Colney more than a week into the close season, said he was delighted with their progress. When the squad reassembles in the first week of July, he is confident there will be no lingering problems from an injury-hit campaign.

“They're all doing very well. There is no reason to think they won't all be fully fit,” he said.

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“Gary Doherty is making terrific progress, there are no worries there. I anticipate he'll be fully fit at the end of May. He's really flying. Had the season finished in the middle of May, you may even have seen him playing again by now.

“The operation was something that needed doing for a little while. We put it off as long as we could but it got to the stage where we needed to get it done.

“Chris Brown has been fit for the last couple of weeks. He joined in full training before the end of the season.”

The luckless Chadwick did not manage a full 90 minutes for City last season after his move from Stoke - first sidelined for more than three months after a knee operation, then picking up a thigh injury in training.

“Luke didn't have a great season with injuries,” said Reynolds. “We have had to be a little bit more cautious. The severity of his knee injury never really came out but that's hopefully behind him. There may have been a bit of a connection with the thigh injury but I think that one was more of a freak injury in training.”

Safri, meanwhile, will be hoping to figure in Morocco's African Nations Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Malawi in June, while Earnshaw will be on Wales duty for a friendly against New Zealand on May 26 and a European Championship qualifier against Czech Republic on June 2.

“Youssef is doing very well with his hamstring, he has worked hard. He'll be going back to Morocco in the summer because they have a couple of games.

“Robert worked very hard on his rehabilitation programme and we've seen the results of that. He was given a three-month timescale and he stuck to that. These injuries can take a lot longer but we were very pleased to see him return.

“He will go away with Wales, but we will give a strengthening programme to the Welsh medical people for him to follow.”

With skipper Adam Drury now getting a chance to recuperate after a season dogged by ankle injuries, lost teeth and a neck problem on the last day of the season at Sheffield Wednesday, the squad will get down to their summer training schedules, carefully prepared by staff at Colney.

“The players all undergo fitness tests at the end of the season and they are given a programme over the summer months. Everybody is given a programme that's tailor made,” said Reynolds.

It's a schedule that includes running, cycling and weight training, while each player is given a heart rate monitor.

The players are fitness tested again at the beginning of June, halfway through their break. The squad then report for further tests on Tuesday, July 3, and are back in full training three days later.

“I always say Colney doesn't close down but it's important to get some time away and have a holiday and we recognise that,” said Reynolds.

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