Hucks back as reserves stroll to win

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City Res 4, Luton Res 0: Darren Huckerby made his first appearance of the summer on Tuesday night - but then added an air of mystery to his long-term absence.


Norwich City Res 4, Luton Res 0

Darren Huckerby made his first appearance of the summer - but then added an air of mystery to his long-term absence.

The flying winger hasn't played since the final game of last season, with a groin injury seemingly the problem which has kept him out of seven pre-season matches, two Championship games and one Carling Cup tie.

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However, Huckerby revealed that the problem was actually with his hip - and would need to be “managed” properly to ensure he plays.

While a run-out of just short of an hour was good news for manager Peter Grant, Huckerby suggested a return to the squad at Hull this weekend was unlikely.

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“It is not 100pc if I am going to be honest, but we are working on different ways to get it 100pc,” he said. “I have to try and get through it as best I can.

“I did have a little groin strain but the bigger issue is my hip. We are trying to manage it and hopefully we can get the training sessions in and get the games in and it will be back to full fitness as soon as possible.

“It is something I have to manage now, I still feel it a little bit but I knew that would be the case.”

Huckerby lined up in a strong City reserves side, but having missed so much action is well behind his team-mates in terms of minutes on the pitch.

“I have probably had two days training with the ball in eight weeks,” he said.

“It's nice to be back with it - I am probably eight weeks behind everybody else, so it is going to take a bit of time, but it was nice to be out there.”

Hull would appear to be a match or two too soon.

“I will probably be travelling with the boys but the lads have been doing okay,” he said. “Even though the performances haven't been great the results have been very good, so I think he (Grant) will keep the same team I would have thought.”

It took Huckerby all of six and a half minutes to get his first touch, but it didn't take too much longer for him to warm to the task - the close contact “marking” of his defender was a tell-tale sign that it was almost business as usual.

City's second string allowed him to ease his way back, but didn't need any help seeing off the visitors.

Bally Smart was guilty of a glaring miss on 22 minutes, picking up Ryan Jarvis' neat through-ball, beating the offside trap, but then failing to beat the keeper in a one-on-one.

But Smart repaid the favour to Jarvis on 29 minutes - and the striker made no mistake, slotting the ball into the far corner from six yards.

Huckerby found himself in a similar position moments later, only to be foiled by keeper Ross Faulds, but City doubled their lead when Robert Eagle's cross from the left was met by David Strihavka, whose looping header went over the keeper's head.

Ryan Jarvis should have made it three seven minutes after the break after being set free by Smart, but once again he found Faulds equal to his effort.

The unlikely figure of central defender Matthew Halliday made it 3-0 on 66 minutes with a delightful chip from 25 yards, with Chris Martin wrapping it up on 75 minutes knocking in a free kick from the same spot.

t Norwich: Gilks, Cave-Brown, Spillane, Halliday, Eagle, Smart, Rossi Jarvis, Martin (McLean 87), Ryan Jarvis, Strihavka (Renton 75), Huckerby (Lathrope 56). Subs not used: Arnold, Miller. Goals: Ryan Jarvis 29, Strihavka 31, Halliday 66, Martin 75.

t Luton: Faulds, Selby, Emanuel, Keane, Strang, O'Leary, McGuiness (Hamilton 84), Ricketts (Bevan 84), Andrew, Charles, Bell (Howells 60). Subs not used: Barker, Maitland.

t Ref: M Thorpe.

t Att: 1,817.

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