Fotheringham blow rocks City

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City are facing their first injury crisis of the new season after midfielder Mark Fotheringham was yesterday ruled out for “a period of time” with ankle ligament damage.


Norwich City are facing their first injury crisis of the new season after midfielder Mark Fotheringham was ruled out for “a period of time” with ankle ligament damage.

The Scot was taken off the pitch on a stretcher on Saturday after falling awkwardly in a tackle towards the end of the 2-1 win over Southampton.

And while he later walked out of the ground, the injury was clearly more serious than at first thought, with a scan revealing ligament damage.

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One report suggested Fotheringham would be out until December, although it is believed that estimate is on the pessimistic side.

The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the 23-year-old, who had come on as a half-time sub with Southampton a goal up, but was credited by manager Peter Grant with swinging the game in City's favour.

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“He's going to be out for a period of time,” confirmed Grant yesterday. “It's a blow for the player, who has worked extremely hard. He's done exceptionally well and worked his socks off in pre-season and come back ready to play.

“His form in the pre-season friendlies meant he deserved to be in my starting line-ups, but I decided to try a different system because of the circumstances. But he came on on Saturday and helped swing the game for us, and it's a real blow to lose him.”

It means Grant has now lost arguably his two most creative central midfielders, with on-loan Chelsea player Jimmy Smith suffering a similar injury during City's pre-season tour of Holland and unlikely to feature until next month at the earliest.

Despite bringing in eight players - including Smith - during the summer, Grant has consistently maintained that he needs more new faces to prevent a repeat of last season's selection problems when he had to cope with injuries in specific areas of the pitch. Grant saw City's defence and then his attack struck down almost en bloc - and that meant the premature blooding of the likes of teenagers Chris Martin and Kris Renton.

Grant is now almost certain to step up his search for midfield cover - a search which he had been prepared to allow to run past the August 31 transfer deadline and into the period when loan deals can still be made. But with Fotheringham sidelined for several weeks, that now becomes a matter of more urgency.

Rangers' Ian Murray - who can play in midfield or defence - is reportedly on Grant's shopping list, although the Scottish giants have yet to receive any formal notice of intent.

Grant's current central midfield options appear to be Julien Brellier - who is still short of match fitness and was replaced by Fotheringham at the weekend - Darel Russell and possibly Luke Chadwick.

On the fringes are a teenage trio, all of whom have varying experiences of first team football but can play in the centre of the park. Michael Spillane played there at the end of last season, while Martin and Rossi Jarvis played there in the reserves' 4-0 win over Luton on Tuesday evening.

Martin, who scored on Tuesday, will fancy his chances based on the creative role that Grant needs filling as well as his run in the first team last season - which came, ironically, after the injury to Robert Earnshaw.

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