Lilywhites facing striker shortage

JONATHAN REDHEAD Norwich City were given a massive boost today after learning that Preston North End are facing a striker crisis before the big kick-off on Saturday. The Lilywhites, who sold star striker David Nugent to Portsmouth for £6m in the summer, have only two fit strikers ahead of the clash with the Canaries at Deepdale on Saturday.

JONATHAN REDHEAD

Norwich City were given a massive boost today after learning that Preston North End are facing a striker crisis before the big kick-off on Saturday.

The Lilywhites, who sold star striker David Nugent to Portsmouth for £6m in the summer, have only two fit strikers ahead of the clash with the Canaries at Deepdale on Saturday.

Patrick Agyemang was injured on Friday, while Neil Mellor limped out of Saturday's 3-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers, leaving manager Paul Simpson with only Brett Ormerod, who scored only eight league goals in 28 appearances last season, and new signing Karl Hawley to call on.


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Agyemang faces three weeks on the sidelines with a torn rectus femoris - a muscle in the thigh - while former Liverpool man Mellor is awaiting results of an assessment after taking a knee to the lower back against Rovers.

The news will have come as a big shot in the arm for the City squad although Simpson is planning a last-ditch shopping raid search of the transfer market to get a striker into his squad before the weekend, on top of looking someone to fill a midfielder also short of manpower.

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“Losing Patrick is a real blow to us,” Simpson told the Lancashire Evening Post. “We had him scanned on Friday and there is a possibility he could be out for maybe three weeks.

“We will have to try and get someone in to replace him.

“Mellor's got a knee right up the backside. We will see over the next few days how he is, but hopefully he will be okay for the weekend. If he isn't right for Saturday then we are going to be pretty short-handed.”

Simpson also has plenty of problems with the rear of his team as well after all three of Rovers goals were headers from set-pieces. Preston have now conceded a total of 10 goals from set plays in eight friendly matches.

“We are disappointed with the way we have defended,” he said. “One of the things we talked about pre-season was trying to cut out goals from set-pieces and yet we conceded three on Saturday.”

City boss Peter Grant would be happy to face a side shorn of two first choice strikers and in apparent defensive disarray, but he yesterday laid down a challenge to his own side to force their way into his starting line-up for the Preston clash.

He said he had yet to decide on his eleven for the first game of the season.

“I've got a rough idea of the shape of the team but who the eleven is we will decide over the course of the week,” he said. “I've said that to the players. The season starts now. That's as far as the prep goes.

“I've looked at it and assessed the players as to what their strengths will be.

“I will have a look at Preston and see what they've got to offer and will try to put a team together that's more than capable of beating them.”

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