Fleming calls for more consistency
DAVID CUFFLEY Two home games in the space of four days offer Norwich City the perfect chance to make up lost ground in the Coca-Cola Championship table - but club captain Craig Fleming admits they have to shake off their inconsistency to have any say in the promotion race.
Two home games in the space of four days offer Norwich City the perfect chance to make up lost ground in the Coca-Cola Championship table - but club captain Craig Fleming admits they have to shake off their inconsistency to have any say in the promotion race.
The Canaries have yet to win three league games in a row this season, and missed another chance to register a valuable hat-trick of victories when they crashed 3-1 at Ipswich in Sunday's East Anglian derby.
Fleming, still battling his way back to fitness after missing three games with a hamstring injury, watched the derby game on TV after his team-mates travelled overnight.
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And, though he is making gradual progress in his recovery, the 35-year-old is likely to be a spectator again for the visits of Hull on Saturday and Leicester next Tuesday.
The two games represent an ideal opportunity for City to improve on their current position of 12th in the table, four points adrift of the top six.
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“For years at Carrow Road we have been pretty strong at home and I feel any time we play at home we should be capable of winning,” said Fleming.
“We've beaten Cardiff and Preston, the top two, at home this season. Having said that, there are no easy games. There is that expectation when you play at home against sides lower in the table but they are difficult games.”
Trips to Sunderland, Southampton and Wolves in December underline the importance of City taking maximum points from their home matches.
“It's true there are some difficult away games coming up but we just have to find that consistency,” said Fleming.
“Birmingham were strongly fancied and we went there and won, and at West Brom we had another victory.
“But we have got to strive for that consistent six, seven, eight-match run.
“It's probably the most open it's been in this division for a long time - the most open league I can remember.
“When we won it three seasons ago and when Reading and Sheffield United went up last year, they were out in front early on, but no one is doing that this time. It looked like Cardiff would do it about the time they played us, but nobody is really storming ahead. It's there for the taking.”
Fleming has been sidelined for the whole of November after pulling a hamstring in the 1-1 draw at home to Colchester, but stepped up his recovery programme yesterday.
He said: “It went all right. I did some jogging, half-pace and three-quarter pace stuff, which wasn't too bad.
“I've been out with Neal Reynolds and Pete Shaw putting me through my paces and hopefully I'll be back in training at some point next week.
“It's the first time I've had hamstring trouble. It happened in the Colchester game.
The back didn't feel quite right before the game and right at the very last minute I went to stretch for the ball and that's when it happened.”
He is unlikely to figure in the next two games, but said he had been fortunate over the years with his injury record.
“The two home games are probably too soon because I won't have trained,” he said. “It's frustrating watching when you are injured but I can't really complain. I haven't missed many games through injury.”
Meanwhile, injured forward Ian Henderson has spoken of his frustration at being sidelined for a further week.
Henderson, already sidelined for the past nine weeks, was keen to stake a claim for a right-sided midfield slot - a hope that is now on the back-burner after he fell awkwardly during a training session last Saturday, bruising a tendon in his knee.
“There's been a little setback,” said Henderson. “I'd been back training about five days and on the Saturday we had a training session before the Ipswich game. I fell heavily on my knee and they said I have a bruised tendon so it's another week to recover.”