Selection problems stack up for Grant

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant's selection problems took a major turn for the worse yesterday when Canaries winger Lee Croft was ruled out for up to six weeks.


Peter Grant's selection problems took a major turn for the worse yesterday when Canaries winger Lee Croft was ruled out for up to six weeks.

Croft joins Darren Huckerby and top scorer Robert Earnshaw in the treatment room - which means the new City boss has seen his entire first-choice forward line wiped out by injury in the space of a week.

Huckerby (back) and Earnshaw (ribs) are rated 70-30 against for tonight's visit by Colchester United, a match that takes on huge significance in the wake of Saturday's 5-0 drubbing at Stoke.

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But while they are expected to be short-term absentees, the news on Croft, who picked up the injury around 15 minutes from time at the Britannia Stadium, is bad.

"He had got a bad tackle - it's a good tackle but he's made sure he got the man as well, so he rolled his ankle," said Grant. "He could be out for a little while.

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"I not a physiotherapist, but the way they are talking four to six weeks I possible."

It means Grant has just 15 recognised outfield players, some of whom are short of match fitness, to select from.

Youssef Safri returned to training yesterday after a groin problem and is likely to feature, but, like, Andy Hughes and Peter Thorne, who both played at Stoke after recovering from injuries, still lacks match sharpness.

Robert Eagle, unlucky not to get a start at Stoke, comes into the reckoning again, while the likes of Rossi Jarvis and Michael Spillane could find themselves on the bench.

"Young Eagle has done himself justice in the last few games so he is definitely a possibility," said Grant. "There will be a freshness in the team - there is no doubt about that."

Grant is still finding his feet at Carrow Road and admits that it's sight unseen with some of the younger players.

"The fact that I have only seen the one reserve game and a youth team game means it is difficult to judge," he said. "Ideally I would want players with more experience at this moment in time if I am losing that amount of players, but beggars can't be choosers.

"If somebody has got to play, somebody has to play and I won't be moaning about the fact if any of the kids have to come in because they have showed to me they have ability, but I would rather have a full complement of players and be able to make a decision from that.

"Sometimes people come in and surprise you. And all of a sudden the ones that were injured you didn't miss as much as you thought you would because somebody comes in and plays well. I am not worried about it in that respect - I wish everybody was fit, but even if everybody was fit I would probably make changes anyway."

The selection problems mean some players will have to forego their preferred positions.

"It is an opportunity for somebody else and if it means somebody else has got to shift position a little bit, so be it," he said. "This is a time when we will need to utilise that. I am not one for that, but sometimes you have no option."

The crisis also puts into perspective Paul McVeigh's sending off for violent conduct against Cardiff, which earned him a three-match ban.

"When you have a small squad you can't afford to lose any players through silly suspensions," Grant said. "We know it is going to happen sometimes with bookings, but you can't have silly suspensions like that. That's one of the reason you get frustrated because there is a possibility he could have started against Port Vale last week. Who knows, he could have played against Stoke at the weekend and, who knows, he could have played tomorrow night. There's three games he has missed out on in a week so that's been disappointing. Hopefully other players will learn from that and hopefully Paul will."

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