Shackell making a quick recovery
CHRIS LAKEY Jason Shackell could be in line for a surprise return to the Canaries line-up this weekend. anaries boss Peter Grant feared that Shackell would join Mark Fotheringham and Jimmy Smith - also suffering ankle ligament damage - on his lost of long-term absentees.
Jason Shackell could be in line for a surprise return to the Canaries line-up this weekend.
Canaries boss Peter Grant feared that Shackell would join Mark Fotheringham and Jimmy Smith - also suffering ankle ligament damage - on his lost of long-term absentees.
But the City skipper has made a quick recovery from an ankle ligament injury and has already returned to training - although Grant was yesterday keeping his cards close to his chest as he prepares his squad for their first match in a fortnight.
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“He's progressing,” said Grant. “The big thing was that it wasn't as bad as Jimmy's and Fozzy's, so that was very important for us - and obviously his keenness to get back.
“He feels good in himself, which is obviously a massive plus, and he has been on the training pitch - not with us yet - and that is a very good sign.
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“He has been kicking the ball in the last few days but still not joined in with us so that obviously gives him a problem with selection. But thankfully, and hopefully, he is not going to be as long as we first thought he was going to be.”
Should Shackell miss out, Grant has two clear options, both with their own dangers. Dion Dublin - who has two goals in his last two games as a striker - is a clear replacement at centre back, but would rob Grant of the option of bringing the veteran on to help load up the attack.
Ian Murray is back after illness and, although midfield is his natural position, is capable of playing alongside Gary Doherty - but could be short of match fitness, despite a run-out for the reserves at MK Dons on Monday.
“Ian could play now - he played in the middle of the field just to get his legs going and he played very well in there, especially second period, because that is his natural position,” said Grant.
Murray has made two appearances, both at left back, since moving south from Rangers, including an ill-fated opening 45 minutes in the Carling Cup win at Rochdale when he was clearly suffering from illness.
“It was my fault, I shouldn't have played him, he was ill,” said Grant. “He is no problem now and is ready to go. He has recovered from everything and has a clean bill of health. He is mobile and he has played there, he has a good left foot on him and he is intelligent and competitive, so I would have no qualms in playing him in there.”
The decision on Dublin rests on more than just his adaptability, with City facing a hectic schedule over the next three weeks.
“Obviously with the games coming in quick succession I have got to watch with Dion as well,” he said. “I want to utilise Dion at both ends of the field, I want to have that available to me. Last year when Gary (Doherty) got injured and Dion had to go back it took one of our strengths away as well.
“Dion gives you something different - other boys are probably more mobile than him up front but Dion gives you something completely different so I don't want to be taking that away from the team and having Ian available there if Shacks is not available is a big plus.”