Five in race to be fit for Swindon
David Cuffley Norwich City boss Paul Lambert was today planning to check on the fitness of at least five members of his senior squad ahead of the League One visit of Swindon Town.
Norwich City boss Paul Lambert was today planning to check on the fitness of at least five members of his senior squad ahead of the League One visit of Swindon Town.
Only goal difference separates the sixth-placed Canaries and the Robins, in seventh, ahead of tomorrow's encounter at Carrow Road (3pm), with both sides looking to bounce back from defeats.
City's 2-1 reverse at Leeds on Monday, courtesy of Jermaine Beckford's injury-time goal, came two days after Danny Wilson's team were beaten 2-0 at home by Hartlepool, their first defeat since the opening day of the season.
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Despite the result at Elland Road, Lambert is unlikely to make too many changes unless injuries dictate.
Goalkeeper Fraser Forster suffered a back problem before the misplaced goal-kick that led to Leeds' winner, but should be fit to continue if selected.
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Full-back Jon Otsemobor was limping badly after the game, while Korey Smith missed the trip to Yorkshire with a thigh injury.
“Fraser has been training OK but we'll see how he is after today's session,” said Lambert.
“We have to wait and see on Korey and quite a few of them to see if they're going to be OK - Jon Otsemobor is another one.”
Luke Daley played only 45 minutes of City Reserves' 3-1 victory at Northampton on Wednesday after needing treatment in the warm-up, while Cody McDonald was substituted towards the end of the game after taking a bang on the knee.
Matthew Gill stepped up his comeback from a knee injury by playing more than an hour at Northampton and is likely to be on the bench again after appearing as a substitute at Leeds just seconds before the winning goal.
“He's done well considering how long he's been out. He's not played for a long time and he's not ready to start a game but it's good to see him round about it,” said Lambert.
Owain Tudur Jones also played 45 minutes on Wednesday after two months out with a calf injury, but he and City's other long-term absentees are not ready to return.
“Michael Nelson is doing OK and Michael Spillane is running again but Saturday is too soon for either of them,” said Lambert.
Swindon, who play host to the Canaries in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy area quarter-final next month, are without influential midfielder Jonathan Douglas, who is missing the second game in a four-match ban.
They have drawn seven of their 13 league games so far - five of them 1-1.
Wilson, meanwhile, turned up the heat by questioning the Canaries' stomach for a promotion challenge.
He said: “I watched them on Monday and we're more than capable of competing with them.
“We've had very good Southampton, Colchester and Millwall sides come here and have played particularly well against them. Name alone doesn't make a team, and their players have to live up to the club's reputation, and that expectation level is not something that some players can handle.
“When it starts getting hot in that kitchen, we'll start to see whether they are quality players or not, and it will get hot because the expectation level at those sorts of clubs is massive.”
Wilson expects his men to fight back from their defeat by Hartlepool, their first at home since Easter Monday.
“We had a decent amount of possession last week, but we didn't turn anywhere near enough of that into opportunities which was more disappointing than anything else,” he said. “We also put pressure on ourselves, but we know we've got players in our team who can compete with the top sides, and that is the test we face this weekend.”