Fotheringham may have played last City game

David Cuffley Defender Gary Doherty has been appointed Norwich City captain for the rest of the season - while the man he has replaced may well have played his last game for the club.

David Cuffley

Defender Gary Doherty has been appointed Norwich City captain for the rest of the season - while the man he has replaced may well have played his last game for the club.

Centre-half Doherty was handed the armband against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night after midfielder Mark Fotheringham was left out of the squad for the Championship game at Loftus Road.

Manager Bryan Gunn today revealed that he and Fotheringham had agreed it was better he did not play. He said the 25-year-old Scot had made “a personal sacrifice for the benefit of the team”.

Fotheringham skippered the relegation-threatened Canaries in last Saturday's home defeat by Coventry but was substituted 11 minutes from time. He walked straight down the tunnel when his exit from the field was cheered by sections of the crowd.

City had talks with Preston this week over a possible loan swap involving Fotheringham and midfielder Darren Carter, but the move fell through because Carter is needed to cover for injuries at Deepdale.

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Gunn insisted there was no dispute between him and Fotheringham, but said his relationship with the fans had become a distraction.

In his exclusive Evening News column tonight, Gunn writes: “Mark has made a personal sacrifice for the benefit of the team because he has identified the fact that it would be a no-win situation for both of us if he took the pitch again, because of the feelings that the crowd vented towards him. He feels he just needs to make one bad pass and that's it.

“It is an awkward atmosphere to play in and I have total sympathy for him. There is a problem, unfortunately, with a minority of fans and it does affect other people. The small pockets of dissent sound louder on occasions.

“Even if we put Mark on the bench, that might not be appropriate either, so it is an awkward situation, a unique one in my experience.”

Gunn said Fotheringham's reaction on Saturday was down to the crowd rather than the fact he was substituted. But it appears it may have been his last outing at Carrow Road.

Said Gunn: “As things stand, it is unlikely Mark will be at the club next season. He is out of contract at the end of the season and is probably one of our better paid players, so it would be difficult for the club to match that contract again in the current climate. I felt it was only fair that he knew that now rather than later.”

He added that Fotheringham was keen on a loan move for the rest of the season, but it was not imminent.

“There was talk of a possible loan swap with Darren Carter from Preston but Preston have their injury problems at the moment and I believe Darren Carter will be playing tomorrow, so that's not likely to happen. That's as far as we've got. That was the only immediate interest,” said Gunn.

Meanwhile, Doherty, 29, will lead City out in the remaining 10 games, starting against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road tomorrow (3pm) - with instructions to keep up the good work after the 1-0 win over Rangers.

“Gary Doherty will be captain for the remainder of the season and Sammy Clingan will be vice-captain. That began on Tuesday night at Loftus Road,” said Gunn.

“It is a responsibility because you are the leader of the dressing room and you take the troops on to the pitch. It's an important role at a football club and one I feel Gary will carry out well, like he did the other evening.

“He was happy to take on the responsibility and we hope our final 10 performances this season will be of a similar nature to that on Tuesday night under his leadership.”

City were expected to add new loan striker David Mooney, from Reading, to today's travelling party, while two members of the squad will be back on familiar territory tomorrow, with Wes Hoolahan making his first return to Blackpool since his summer move to Norwich and on-loan Alan Gow having scored five times for the Seasiders during a loan spell earlier this season.

Full-back Adam Drury is not ready to return to action, however, still recovering after aggravating a knee injury.

“Adam was back running this week,” said Gunn. “He's gradually coming back into our sessions. The aim was just to rest it in order for him to play the majority of the games rather than play two and miss 10.

“Next week he will be in full training then we'll know the outcome of that straightaway.”