Mooney may face Canaries

David Cuffley City boss Bryan Gunn has admitted he is powerless to stop Reading recalling striker David Mooney if they wish - and playing him at Carrow Road on Monday night.

David Cuffley

City boss Bryan Gunn has admitted he is powerless to stop Reading recalling striker David Mooney if they wish - and playing him at Carrow Road on Monday night.

It would be an extraordinary twist if 24-year-old Mooney, who has scored three times for the Canaries during his loan spell from the Madejski Stadium, were to play against them in a game that could decide their Championship future.

But with Reading boss Steve Coppell hit by a shortage of strikers, he has the option of an instant recall for the Irishman.

Gunn, who watched Reading win 2-0 at Derby on Tuesday to guarantee a play-off place, said Coppell would be within his rights to call back Mooney.

“Of course he can - it's his player. But there is no message on my phone,” said Gunn. “I did see Nicky Hammond from a distance on Tuesday night. But if that was the case, that would be an awkward situation, certainly for David, having spent the last month here. That's well within their remit but there has not been any contact.

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“They had two decent strikers on the pitch on Tuesday night in Dave Kitson and Shane Long and they won 2-0, created a number of chances and had three goals disallowed in the first 10 minutes so it didn't look like they had any problems in the attacking sense.

“We just have to prepare for the game and whatever team Reading put out we will have to match up to them and whether David is part of that we'll have to wait and see. We hope he's not.”

Coppell is without Noel Hunt, recovering from a foot injury, while leading scorer Kevin Doyle is not expected back in training until Saturday after missing three games with a knee problem. And Leroy Lita, who scored seven times for the Canaries during a loan spell earlier this season, is still recovering from an operation to remove pins from his ankle.

Mooney mentioned after Sunday's defeat at Ipswich that the possibility of returning to Reading to play against City had been the subject of dressing room banter - but did not take it seriously.

“We were actually joking before the game that I could be called back to Reading to play against Norwich. It's just one of those scenarios, but I don't think that's going to happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, winger Lee Croft has only an even chance of recovering from a calf injury in time to face Reading.

Said Gunn: “Crofty is in with the physio and with two extra days there might be a chance. I would say he's 50-50 at the moment. I wouldn't give him any more than that. But there might be an improvement. We will have to wait and see on that one.”

Croft was recalled in place of David Carney, who did not even make the substitutes' bench, at Ipswich. But Gunn admitted that Carney's absence from the 16 had been influenced by limits on the number of loan players he could select.

He said: “It was a tight choice between the wide players. It was a difficult decision. With the loan rule there as well, some of the decisions are out of your control because Jason Shackell had a tight hamstring in the build-up to the game and we needed some defensive cover with Adrian Leijer on the bench. With four other loan players on the pitch, we had to juggle the pack. That's what we have to do with the squad we have.

“The decision was made on the back of the doubt over Jason, but he came through the game fantastically well and has not reported any long-term problems and the two extra days will probably help us on that score as well.”