Hunter waits on injury updates
CHRIS LAKEY Caretaker boss Martin Hunter may have to wait until tomorrow morning before finalising his plans for his first game in charge of the Canaries.
Caretaker boss Martin Hunter may have to wait until tomorrow morning before finalising his plans for his first game in charge of the Canaries.
Hunter has inherited not just Nigel Worthington's hot-seat - albeit on a caretaker basis - but also an injury list which could wipe out his entire central midfield options for tomorrow's trip to Queens Park Rangers.
The role call of the walking wounded makes uncomfortable reading:
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Carl Robinson - calf; Andy Hughes - knee; Youssef Safri - calf; Dickson Etuhu - Achilles; Adam Drury - ankle; Peter Thorne - ribs; Ian Henderson - knee; Gary Doherty - Achilles . . . and suspended
Thorne is the most unlikely to feature at Loftus Road, but Hunter's hopes of a good performance to help his chances of being given the managerial post on a full-time basis haven't been helped in the two-week international break.
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Robinson took a whack on the calf in Wales' win over Cyprus on Wednesday, but Hunter is hopeful he will be fit.
“Carl played a full game - that in itself is pleasing, and it's a kick rather than a pull,” said Hunter. “If it was a pull he'd have no chance.”
Hughes, Etuhu and Drury have all trained this week, while Thorne has been restricted to non-contact work, but Safri's first session was not until yesterday.
“Because of the bumps and bruises and also the fact that we are waiting for people to come back from international duty - some will arrive back today, some tomorrow - I won't name the team until tomorrow or even Saturday because there might be some late fitness tests,” said Hunter.
“We have today and tomorrow and we will put the strongest team on the pitch that we can do, injuries obviously being a limiting factor.”
Hunter has the options of bringing in one or two of his young players, although a couple of candidates, such as Michael Spillane and Rossi Jarvis, have also been on international duty.
“Spillane is a squad player in his own right,” Hunter added. “He has done very well with the Republic, scored a goal, but until he gets back into the training camp here we need to know what he's done, how much work he's done and whether he's carrying any knocks.”
Hunter is unlikely to want, or be able, to make major changes, although injuries may dictate his chosen formation.
Dion Dublin could find himself up front alongside Robert Earnshaw, a scorer for Wales in midweek, although Hunter admits the 37-year-old is short on match fitness.
“He was only training part time so his fitness levels were good,” said Hunter. “He had a lactate test on Monday and is in good shape, but he needs his match sharpness.”
Midfield is more of a minefield for Hunter, but the caretaker coach insisted yesterday that he was happy with Hughes' appetite for the challenge.
Hughes is being investigated by the FA and is the subject of a club inquiry into an incident after City's last game, the 4-1 home drubbing by Burnley which led to Nigel Worthington's sacking.
However, Hunter said he had not questioned the former Reading man's desire to play for Norwich, even though he was barracked by some fans when he came on as a sub in that fateful game.
“There's no problem with Andy, he is very keen to play for the club, I don't see that as an issue,” said Hunter. “Supporters are supporters, they will have their favourites. I can assure you when the game has kicked off we are oblivious to a lot of the stuff that goes on.”