Doherty, Fleming out for several weeks

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City's injury crisis has taken yet another turn for the worse, with central defenders Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming likely to be missing for several weeks.

CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City's injury crisis has taken yet another turn for the worse, with central defenders Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming likely to be missing for several weeks.

Both missed Saturday's 1-0 home win over Sunderland, Doherty with a back problem and club captain Fleming with a hamstring injury - and City boss Peter Grant fears the worst.

“It could be Christmas,” he said. “Early December, late December, I don't know.


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“Doc has got a problem with his back but things are not looking good for anything less than November, that's for sure - the same with Flem.”

If they don't reappear before Christmas they will miss eight Championship games - including the derby trip to Ipswich in a fortnight's time.

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Grant already has winger Lee Croft sidelined with an ankle injury, the ramifications of which will be known tomorrow.

“If we gets the answer I am hoping for he will be four weeks - if I don't get the answer we are looking for it could be three four months,” said Grant.

That makes the outgoing calls from Colney all that more important as Grant attempts to bring in loan players to cover for what is becoming an increasingly thin-looking squad. The rumour mill has already started on that one, with Grant's former club West Ham, not surprisingly, figuring, but suggestions that striker Carlton Cole and defender Christian Dailly were at Colney yesterday are thought to be well wide of the mark.

“I have got a few phone calls I made the other day and we'll see how things go over the weekend,” said Grant, whose only other current option is teenager Michael Spillane, who has made just two league starts. “It's going to be a busy weekend for us.”

Grant was forced to use veteran striker Dion Dublin at centre-half against Sunderland and, while the 37-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance, doing it for the next few weeks is not a prospect that excites either manager or player.

“I thought he was magnificent, but I want to be able to utilise him further up the pitch because I think he is a big player for us up there as well,” said Grant. “I don't want us to lose that because in certain games we are not going to be able to pass it well and we have to have a target player and I want the opportunity to do both.”

Grant has now won three of his five Championship games in charge, courtesy of Robert Earnshaw's 10th goal of the season - his first for the new manager - but it was hard going against Roy Keane's Black Cats.

“We still give the ball so cheaply away,” said Grant. “We don't understand how to pass the ball yet, so we need to get much, much better than that. But I will take responsibility because maybe I look at the team and maybe think I am trying to be too clever.”

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