Injury problems mount for Norwich City

Paddy Davitt Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread was the latest pre-season injury casualty in last night's 1-0 friendly defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge. The luckless centre-back was withdrawn before kick-off after suffering a tight calf in the warm-up, having originally being named on the teamsheet alongside Elliott Ward.

Paddy Davitt

Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread was the latest pre-season injury casualty in last night's 1-0 friendly defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge.

The luckless centre-back was withdrawn before kick-off after suffering a tight calf in the warm-up, having originally being named on the teamsheet alongside Elliott Ward.

City boss Paul Lambert confirmed afterwards the former Liverpool trainee's absence was a precautionary measure but skipper Grant Holt (thigh) and Steven Smith (ankle ligaments) both missed out again while young midfielder Korey Smith also took a heavy bang during the first half of a bruising contest.

“I don't think any of the lads who didn't feature here will be ready for the weekend,” said Lambert. “Grant has done his thigh and we just have to monitor it and see how it feels. Steven has picked up some ankle ligament damage and it will be the same situation with him.

“Zak just had a bit of tightness in his calf so it was 'safety first' and Korey got a bit of a bang but hopefully it settles down. It was certainly a hard challenge and the lad's trailing leg has caught his left leg but I want these sort of games - I want us to earn the right to play. You just can't turn up and think it is going to happen.”

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Ward's first-half cameo was the one injury positive after missing City's previous pre-season games with an Achilles problem.

“That was his first 45 minutes and to be fair he hasn't trained much so I was delighted for him,” said Lambert. “He will be an important player for us when we get him fit and hopefully we'll see how he reacts after this game for the weekend (against Newcastle).

“That will be a great test for us in front of our own fans and we're looking forward to that. The opposition is a top-level team and we have to be at our best to beat them. We'll have to perform better than we did here but pre-season games don't always go the way you want.”

Lambert insisted he was unconcerned at City's failure to break down another lower-level Football League outfit after Tuesday's goal less draw at Stevenage, saying: “No I'm not worried about falling to score in these games because I know we'll be ready.

“It was another valuable exercise and that is all it is - one more game under your belt from a fitness point of view. We still have three games to go in pre-season.

“I have said it before but all that matters is the first league match - whether we won all the pre-season games or not I am happy.

“I think from Saturday you will see more players going 90 minutes but I thought there was a number of players who did well and the two keepers were excellent.”