Grant sweats on Youssef’s fitness

DAVID CUFFLEY Manager Peter Grant was today hoping it was a case of “no news is good news” as City waited for an update on the fitness of midfielder Youssef Safri. Safri was reported to have been carried off after taking a knock three minutes from the end of Morocco's 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe in Harare in the African Nations' Cup on Sunday.

DAVID CUFFLEY

Manager Peter Grant was today hoping it was a case of “no news is good news” as City waited for an update on the fitness of midfielder Youssef Safri.

Safri was reported to have been carried off after taking a knock three minutes from the end of Morocco's 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe in Harare in the African Nations' Cup on Sunday.

But the Canaries were still waiting for confirmation that the 30-year-old international will be fit for duty when their Coca-Cola Championship programme resumes against Colchester United at Layer Road on Saturday.


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Grant said this morning: “We have not had any contact and we have tried to check with the Moroccan FA to see if there is a problem.

“As we have heard nothing, I'm assuming there is nothing wrong, but I am disappointed nobody's been in contact.”

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Safri is expected back at Colney tomorrow, while the rest of the City squad have been back in training this week after a short break during their blank weekend.

Skipper Adam Drury is given a chance of facing the U's after hobbling off with an ankle injury against Stoke.

“We will give Adam up to the last minute. As I said, if there had been a game last weekend he would definitely have missed it, but there is a possibility. I would say he was 50-50,” said Grant.

Striker Chris Brown, who has missed the last six matches, is still a major doubt, however.

“I would still say he's struggling for this week. I don't want to take a chance on him with a hamstring strain.”

Meanwhile, striker Robert Earnshaw rates himself “60 per cent fit” following his injury nightmare.

The 17-goal striker has been out of action since early January after tearing a groin muscle during shooting practice - but has said he sees “light at the end of the tunnel”.

The £2.75m Welshman is now back kicking a ball after weeks on the treatment table and has set his sights on becoming the first Norwich striker to top 20 goals in a season since Iwan Roberts scored 23 in all competitions in 1998-99.

“I've been doing quite a bit of fitness work for six weeks or so,” he said at City's Soccer PM! roadshow in Lowestoft.

“It's getting there now. I'm kicking a ball and doing everything that I would be doing anyway, but strength-wise I'm probably 60 per cent so hopefully over the next two weeks or so I can bring it up close to 100 per cent.”

Earnshaw is still only four goals behind the leading scorer in the Championship despite his long spell on the sidelines.

“I've been out for three months and still only four goals behind. We will just have to see. Hopefully I can get back to playing and then hopefully everything else sorts itself out,” he said.

Colchester have their own injury worries ahead of Saturday's all-East Anglian clash.

Skipper Karl Duguid has had a steroid injection in his injured knee, and is resting in the hope of being fit.

The U's longest serving player missed the 2-1 victory at Southampton 12 days ago, after injuring his knee in the 2-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

Manager Geraint Williams said yesterday: “Karl is resting at the moment, but we are hoping that he will be available for this weekend's game against Norwich.

“Kevin McLeod has started running again, but this weekend might come too soon for him.”

Left-winger McLeod underwent a minor hernia operation last week but said: “They think there's a chance that I might be back by the weekend. It's a little bit sore and a bit bruised but I'm hoping to be back as soon as possible.”

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