Ryan holds key for Canaries
David Cuffley Ryan Bertrand's versatility helped get Norwich City back on a winning track - and could prove crucial over the last 10 games of the Championship season.
Ryan Bertrand's versatility helped get Norwich City back on a winning track - and could prove crucial over the last 10 games of the Championship season.
The 19-year-old was recalled in a wide midfield role at Queen's Park Rangers on Tuesday night, his first start in five matches, and played his full part in the 1-0 victory that revived the Canaries' fight against relegation, earning praise for his performance from manager Bryan Gunn.
While Darel Russell, the other player to return to the side at Loftus Road, grabbed the all-important winning goal, Gunn was also impressed with Bertrand's contribution as he reinforced the left side of City's rearguard in front of Jason Shackell and Jonathan Grounds.
Bertrand, who has played in all but one of Norwich's victories this season, suffered an ankle ligament injury in the 3-3 draw at Wolves four weeks ago and made just one appearance as substitute in the next four games.
"Ryan's been unfortunate," said Gunn. "We did a similar thing at Wolves when we played Ryan in front of Adam Drury and it made it really solid down that left-hand side.
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"It has given us an opportunity to play Wes Hoolahan in a more forward role and I think it made us look more solid at the back with the four regulars we have there and now Ryan sitting there as well. He's done a fine job."
It would be surprising if Gunn did not use the same personnel for the crucial Championship game at Blackpool on Saturday - but Bertrand, whose loan from Chelsea runs to the end of the season, could find himself reverting to left-back after the weekend, with on-loan Jonathan Grounds making the last appearance of his loan spell at Bloomfield Road.
Said Gunn: "We need to look at things coming up because Jonathan Grounds has one more game left for us. It's just a shame we couldn't have come to an agreement with Middlesbrough at the same time. He's done himself no harm at all.
"Middlesbrough will get a report from me on a young player with a bright future and we look very strong and composed down that left-hand side."
Blackpool slipped to fourth from bottom after their 1-0 home defeat by Burnley on Tuesday night. City can go above the Seasiders if they beat them on Saturday, ahead of successive home games against Cardiff and Plymouth.
"We just need to put in a very similar performance now at Blackpool," said Gunn. "It's going to be another difficult away game but if we can reproduce what we showed on Tuesday night, we'll have a good chance of picking something up there. Then we can get back to Carrow Road and really show the fans that we are in for the fight, for the long haul and we'll accumulate as many points as we can."