Kennedy out for 'a few weeks'

Defender Jonathan Grounds looks certain of a place in the Norwich City starting eleven tomorrow in the wake of more bad news on the injury front for manager Glenn Roeder.

Defender Jonathan Grounds looks certain of a place in the Norwich City starting eleven tomorrow in the wake of more bad news on the injury front for manager Glenn Roeder.

On-loan centre-half John Kennedy has been ruled out for the “next few weeks” with ankle ligament damage after being helped off during Wednesday's 1-0 Championship home defeat by Queens Park Rangers.

So 20-year-old Grounds, who replaced the Celtic man for the final half-hour against QPR after a brief outing as substitute at Plymouth last Saturday, is favourite to step in against Sheffield United at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm).

Roeder said the performance of Grounds - who made eight senior appearances for Middlesbrough before joining City on loan on deadline day - was one of the few plus points from the midweek defeat.

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“I was very pleased with him,” said Roeder. “He passed the ball well, challenged in the air and I'd have no worries at all about playing Jonathan.

“He's been blooded in the Premiership with half a dozen games or so. He had a full game for Middlesbrough against Yeovil in the Carling Cup and he looks like a player who's come from a Premiership club.

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“He's 6ft 2in, a nice size, how you want your centre-backs to be built. I was looking for some positives from Wednesday's game and I said to him afterwards that he was one of them.”

Kennedy, however, has joined Gary Doherty (ankle) and Sammy Clingan (shoulder) on the sidelines. Even as little as a fortnight out of action would rule him out of four Championship matches before the next international break in October.

Said Roeder: “His ankle ligaments are damaged. It's very swollen, too early to say how long he'll be out, but the safest thing to say is we won't be seeing him over the next few weeks, which is a real shame.

“I don't like saying definitely how long when it's so close to the time of the injury happening, because the swelling of the ankle can do down very quickly.

“I just hope we can get him back as soon as possible because he's an important part of the team.

“I think he was one player on Wednesday, before he got injured, who did himself justice.”

Scotland boss George Burley may have been looking at Kennedy when he turned up at Carrow Road for the QPR game.

Said Roeder: “I thought John was fantastic at Plymouth, absolutely outstanding, and I would have thought that probably had something to do with George coming to have a look, perhaps running the rule over David Marshall - he wouldn't have learned anything at all about Marshy because he had nothing to do - but I'm sure he'll be disappointed to see that John's gone off injured again.

“You cannot legislate for injuries. They are all picked up in the heat of the battle. Our fitness regime incorporates injury prevention in terms of soft tissue but there's very little you can do about ankles, knees, bone and ligament damage.

“It's a worry but it's out of your hands. You just have to meet it full on, move on as best you can and give someone else an opportunity.”

Kennedy may not be the only absentee tomorrow with fitness doubts over two more players before today's training session at Colney, though Roeder would not name them.

“We're touch and go on a couple of players but we'll have a better idea after training. We picked up a couple of knocks. It wasn't a dirty game but QPR were physically very strong,” said Roeder, whose team will encounter the same kind of hustle and muscle from the Blades tomorrow.

“They're probably a little bit more direct than QPR. They like to play from the back up to James Beattie for Billy Sharp to run in behind, so we have to be on our toes,” said Roeder.

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