Grant: We'll be fine

Manager Peter Grant was today putting a brave face on Norwich City's deepening injury crisis as they prepare for Sunday's East Anglian derby against Ipswich at Carrow Road.

Manager Peter Grant was today putting a brave face on Norwich City's deepening injury crisis as they prepare for Sunday's East Anglian derby against Ipswich at Carrow Road.

The Canaries, already burdened by a crippling casualty list, suffered a triple blow in the course of last night's 3-0 Coca-Cola Championship defeat at Burnley.

Key men Darren Huckerby, Dion Dublin and Lee Croft are now major doubts for the derby showdown, joining Gary Doherty, Youssef Safri, Simon Lappin and Mark Fotheringham, plus long-term absentees Luke Chadwick, Chris Brown, Peter Thorne and David Marshall, on the sidelines. Jurgen Colin was another to miss the trip to Turf Moor because of family reasons.

Goals from ex-Canary Ade Akinbiyi, Andy Gray and Wade Elliott secured Burnley's win but for City, the rearranged fixture cost more than just three points.

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Huckerby withdrew from the match with back trouble after pulling up in the warm-up, to be replaced at the last minute by 16-year-old Kris Renton, while Dublin injured his right ankle and was substituted four minutes from time. Croft played the full 90 minutes but appeared to take a blow on the hip.

Grant said Huckerby had suffered from Monday's long journey to Lancashire.

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"We had seven and a half hours on a bus yesterday. That did not help because one of the roads was closed, so there were a few of the boys complaining about their backs," he said.

"Before the game Hucks just went out there, but he's going to be a big problem for us at the weekend. He's struggling. Unfortunately we've got two others who look as if they'll miss the game at the weekend."

Dublin persevered after injuring his ankle midway through the second half but when Burnley went 2-0 up, he was taken off.

"He wants to stay on, he knows it's a young group but once the second goal goes in, you just get him off to see if you can limit the damage. That's what we tried to," said Grant.

In spite of his injury woes and the 3-0 scoreline, Grant insisted he was delighted with the performance of his players, if not that of referee Martin Atkinson and his assistants.

He said: "Don't worry about Sunday. I think you've got to worry about the performance tonight. I thought it was brilliant. I thought we were outstanding, but it was very difficult playing against 14 people.

"I thought the officials were awful from start to finish. If we'd have taken one point from the game I'd have been disappointed, the way we performed, so I think Sunday will take care of itself.

"We performed very, very well. I thought we were magnificent, the group we had out tonight and to lose that game the way we did beggars belief."

Asked about the officials, he said: "I think they got one thing right and that was the throw-in right at the death. That was the one decision we got.

"You talk about honesty - and I'm talking about for both teams. If it's a foul for them for some things, that's fine. Make sure the next one's for us.

"I think that summed up the second goal. He's come right through him (Renton) for the 15th time from the back, but the referee played on, so I thought they were awful.

"It's hard enough to come here to play against 11, but not the officials as well."

He said Burnley were not worth their victory.

"They went in front against the run of play, they got the second one against the run of play, they got the third one against the run of play. I thought we were brilliant.

"You look at that group out there, 16-year-old, 17-year-old boys. I thought they manoeuvred the ball ever so well, they got into good positions. I thought the final third was the only place we let ourselves down, though that's the most important part of the field.

"But in general play, we were commanding the play, at a difficult place to come to at the best of times. All you're asking for is a wee bit of help along the road and that's just by making proper decisions. That didn't happen but there's not one way I could fault their performance tonight.

"I hate losing at any time but if there's a way to lose, it's performing like that. I'd have been seething to lose one point here, the way they performed. To end up losing three points was a total injustice."

Renton, who became City's youngest first team player of all time when he came on as a substitute at Leicester on Saturday, was handed his full debut.

"Young Kris Renton, I thought, for his age, led the line fantastically well. Probably the only thing missing from his performance was a goal," said Grant. "Young Michael Spillane, coming in in central midfield, was excellent, so there were a lot of things to be very proud of. I'm gutted for them that they end up looking as if they've got battered 3-0, but it was anything but that."

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