Grant must decide whether to tinker
DAVID CUFFLEY City boss Peter Grant must decide whether to stick with a winning formula for Sunday's Coca-Cola Championship match at Ipswich - or whether to throw new signing Luke Chadwick straight into the East Anglian derby cauldron at Portman Road (11.
City boss Peter Grant must decide whether to stick with a winning formula for Sunday's Coca-Cola Championship match at Ipswich - or whether to throw new signing Luke Chadwick straight into the East Anglian derby cauldron at Portman Road (11.30am).
Fresh from a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns that moved the Canaries within a point of the play-off places, Grant may be tempted to leave well alone as his players bid for their third win in four away league games.
The recalled Andy Hughes did a sound job after being preferred to Paul McVeigh in a wide role at The Hawthorns, but the arrival of Chadwick on loan from Stoke City until January - with a view to a permanent move - offers the City boss a third option in that position.
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Grant insists he has no worries over the fitness of Chadwick, who will be 26 tomorrow, despite the player struggling to finish matches for Stoke.
“I have no concerns about his fitness. His body language may suggest he's tired in the first minute, but he'll still be running around after 90 minutes,” said Grant.
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“He will be in the squad for Sunday's game and whether he plays I will decide over the next 48 hours. It's a good choice to have.”
Derby debuts for the Canaries are not unheard of. Grant's predecessor, Nigel Worthington, gave strikers Leon McKenzie and Matthias Svensson their first outings at Ipswich three seasons ago, and last year he gave loan defender Calum Davenport his first start in the 1-0 win at Portman Road.
Defender Gary Doherty is the other candidate for a recall on Sunday after returning to full training this week following a back injury. Doherty is back in the squad but may have to wait for his chance following the success of the Dion Dublin and Jason Shackell partnership at the back in successive 1-0 wins against Sunderland and Albion.
Grant was waiting for players on international duty in midweek to return today, but had no reports of any fitness problems on Paul Gallacher, Robert Earnshaw, Carl Robinson and Youssef Safri.
Club captain Craig Fleming is still sidelined by a hamstring injury, while winger Lee Croft is likely to have at least three more weeks out with ankle ligament damage. Ian Henderson and Andrew Cave-Brown remain on the injured list after long spells out, but both are making progress.
Grant, meanwhile, paid tribute to his backroom staff last night when he spoke at a fans' forum at Lowestoft.
The City manager retained assistant Doug Livermore, coach Martin Hunter and reserve team coach Keith Webb when he arrived from West Ham.
“One thing I was asked by the board was if I would like to bring in my own backroom team,” said Grant.
“I said no problem. I have seen so many new managers change their assistants and I never know why.
“They said I could bring my own team in and I said I didn't want to.
“I told them I would rather work with them for a couple of weeks and to a man they have been absolutely excellent. I could not ask for more.
“Martin Hunter has a great knowledge of the game and Doug Livermore's experience and contacts are important to me.
“I told Martin his job is as safe as houses - he has a great work ethic, the same as Doug and Keith. With them we will not go far wrong.”
Grant, flanked by majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, fielded an array of questions on subjects including the club's youth policy, referees, player discipline - and finances.
With City in their final season of parachute payments, Grant admitted that the gap between Championship and Premiership was getting wider - and he didn't like it.
And he had a warning for clubs who find themselves dropping out of the top flight.
“Of the three that come down now, two will definitely get left behind,” he said. “They will all spend their money trying to get back up but only one will make it.”