Otsemobor playing pain game

David Cuffley City defender Jon Otsemobor is hoping to show a clean pair of heels to Southampton tonight - despite the fact one of them is giving him constant aggravation.

David Cuffley

City defender Jon Otsemobor is hoping to show a clean pair of heels to Southampton tonight - despite the fact one of them is giving him constant aggravation.

The lightning-quick full-back is preparing to put an Achilles problem to the back of his mind once again in tonight's Coca-Cola Championship game against the Saints at St Mary's Stadium (7.45pm).

Otsemobor, 24, has missed just one league match for the Canaries this season since his free transfer from Crewe. A migraine forced him out of the 2-1 defeat at Stoke in December.

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But he saw little action in the FA Cup, appearing as a late substitute in the home game against Bury and missing the third round replay at Gigg Lane when manager Glenn Roeder gave him the chance to rest his sore Achilles.

Said Otsemobor: “It's still bothering me, but the good thing about it is it's not getting any worse. I'm doing my rehab before training, before games and just plodding along with it.

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“It's a new injury. I've not had an Achilles problem before. Dion Dublin has had one and it's like a toothache, really. It's always there. I'm doing my rehab and taking my painkillers and plodding on.”

It's hard to imagine anyone in the City side less likely to “plod” than the speedy Otsemobor, whose brief absences have been covered at full-back by Gary Doherty, Darel Russell and, at Bury, Michael Spillane.

“I think with the Bury game the gaffer decided to give me a rest. Over the Christmas period we had a lot of games and that's when it really came on,” said Otsemobor.

The former Liverpool right-back has had an extended rest thanks to City's blank weekend, and he admitted their FA Cup exit had a silver lining.

He said: “If you ask all the lads, you always want to stay in the FA Cup for as long as you can, but we can only take the benefits from it now. The lads have had a good rest and can prepare for the game tonight.”

But he said the fact Southampton played on Saturday - beating Bury 2-0 in the fourth round - and were currently under caretaker management after George Burley's appointment as Scotland boss were unlikely to influence tonight's encounter.

He said: “Once the whistle goes, fatigue doesn't really affect Southampton. I don't think it will make much difference.

“And you don't really think about whether they've got a manager or not. I think it's more whether they will be worrying, but I don't think it will make a difference.”

City will be out to extend an unbeaten run of nine Championship games since the defeat at Stoke, and they have chalked up two wins and two draws in their last four away matches.

“Rather than thinking we could do with a point here or there, I think we're going into games thinking we're more than capable of winning. I think that's been the difference, especially in away games,” said Otsemobor, enjoying his right-sided partnership with the man in form, winger Lee Croft, an old adversary at reserve team level with their previous clubs.

“Depending on how the game is going, I like to get forward. My game plan is basically the same whether we're at home or away. If I get the opportunity to get forward at the right times, I'll go,” said Otsemobor.

“I've always thought Lee was a quality player, regardless of whether he's been playing or not. He's a player I always enjoy playing alongside, but he has been playing well over the past couple of weeks. Due credit to him, because he's been good in training as well and now he's taken it on to the pitch.

“I see him in training every day. He's playing with a lot more confidence. I think that's what it's down to. Since I've known him, since we were young, he's always had the ability. When you're watching him these days, he's playing with a lot of freedom and a lot of confidence.

“Nine times out of 10, when I get the ball, I know who I want to pass the ball to. Nine times out of 10, he's there for me, so it does definitely help my game.”

Roeder said it was “possible” Darren Huckerby, who missed the last home game against Leicester and had an injection in a hip injury last week, would be available but added: “If we have to wait a few more days, we'll wait a few more days. The team played so well against Leicester that it wouldn't be a problem for me if I had to wait a bit longer.

“He has a very, very small tear on the hip joint, certainly not anywhere near enough to consider surgery, so he hasn't got to worry about that, but his style of play is all about pace and twisting and turning.”

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