Reserves may get a Pontins break
CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City's reserve team could be pulled out of the Pontins Holiday Combination League by Peter Grant.
Norwich City's reserve team could be pulled out of the Pontins Holiday Combination League by Peter Grant.
The City boss is frustrated by the haphazard nature of the league, and the quality of opposition it provides his fringe players.
When City reached the Premiership they faced the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, but were kicked out following relegation and now find themselves up against Conference sides Stevenage and Grays.
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While Grant used the opportunity of a home game last Tuesday to field a number of first team players, he refuses to play them in away games. His problem, though, is finding an alternative to give fringe players, or those, like Darren Huckerby on Tuesday, who are returning from injury, a decent standard of opposition.
"If it keeps going the way it is, it is something I will look at," admitted Grant. "The only problem I have with that is then you are looking to play friendlies all the time. But we are similar to everybody else - you end up with not enough players or you arrange a game, you get a couple of injuries on a Saturday and you have to cancel it.
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"Maybe it is something we will have to look at, but I look at some of the games and, no disrespect, if it's a Stevenage or a Grays reserves I am thinking these guys are playing against that and they haven't got that competitive edge.
"I need them to come into our group but even when you look as a manager you say "he did well," but then you say "yes, but we're playing Grays reserves".
"It is different if you are playing against Chelsea or Man United, he is playing against good players, he has done well and he looks the part, whereas for me it is better going out to the lower leagues and getting performances in."
The reserve team's fixture list clearly illustrates Grant's concerns: the gap between City's first two games is three weeks while at the end of the season there is just one fixture in a five-week period.
"It is not as if you are playing a reserve game every Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, that is not the case," Grant said. "It becomes a complete waste of time. The other night was great for me because we had no game and it allows players to get a wee bit of game time on the pitch, but that is the only way I would use the home games.
"If that was an away game I wouldn't have done it because of the amount of travelling that goes in to getting to away games, the amount of travelling to come back and then the preparation for the next game on a Saturday."
In the absence of decent reserve team football, Grant has been keen to send players out on loan - Ryan Jarvis was at Leyton Orient at the end of last season and yesterday went north to Kilmarnock, while goalkeeper Joe Lewis went to Stockport and is currently enjoying a successful spell with League Two newcomers Morecambe.
"Sometimes it is the best thing you can do - and not only that, other people look at them and if I make a decision that maybe if I am not going to continue their contract, then people have seen them play and it gives them a chance to have a new career somewhere else," said Grant.