Three's a jolly good fellow

David Cuffley Defender Gary Doherty is determined to be more than just the third man in Norwich City's central defensive plans.While saluting his “no nonsense” approach to his centre-half duties, manager Glenn Roeder has twice left the former Tottenham man out of the side since his return to action at Bristol City in October, preferring the combined talents of his summer recruits.

David Cuffley

Defender Gary Doherty is determined to be more than just the third man in Norwich City's central defensive plans.

While saluting his “no nonsense” approach to his centre-half duties, manager Glenn Roeder has twice left the former Tottenham man out of the side since his return to action at Bristol City in October, preferring the combined talents of his summer recruits.

John Kennedy replaced Doherty for the trip to Derby, while Dejan Stefanovic was recalled at Doherty's expense against Preston at Carrow Road on Saturday.


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In the event, Doherty served the shortest of exiles from first-team duty, coming off the bench after just nine minutes when Stefanovic was stretchered off. But by then, his team-mates were already 1-0 down to a goal from ex-City striker Chris Brown.

Doherty admitted he was disappointed to be left out after starting the previous two home games, but may have to prepare for an extended run depending on the severity of Stefanovic's injury.

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“To be honest, I was disappointed,” said the former player of the season. “I came in, we won a couple, Burnley was disappointing for me, but I've been feeling good. I've been feeling strong in training and I've been feeling quite fit so I was just happy to get back on the pitch.”

Not that Doherty would have chosen to reclaim his place through injury to a colleague.

“It's a worry now for Dejan. We've got to see how bad his knee is,” he said. “Depending really on how Dejan's injury is, maybe the gaffer will want to get someone in but there is Adam Drury as well, who did a terrific job when he was asked to play centre-half.”

With loan defenders Jonathan Grounds and Troy Archibald-Henville back at their respective Premier League clubs, City have limited cover, with full-backs Drury and Elliott Omozusi already used in the centre of defence.

Whether or not he faces Swansea City on Saturday, Doherty said City could not afford the kind of start they made against Preston.

“One thing we have to do is start better. Starting like that was terrible, really," said Doherty. “It gets them on top of us and gets the fans agitated.

“The one thing we did show was good character to come back but a game we thought we were cruising we ended up drawing.”

City came close to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when, after fighting back to lead 2-1, they suffered a double blow in the shape of a red card for skipper Darel Russell and a late equaliser from Neil Mellor.

Doherty felt City began to lose momentum even before Russell's 79th-minute dismissal by referee Paul Taylor.

He said: “Even before that I thought we lost our way a bit. We weren't making good passes, the defence wasn't getting out because we weren't holding the ball, so it was difficult for us to get up the pitch.

“I thought we started slowly in the second half for some reason, but we started terribly in the first half. For them to score that early was disappointing but we clawed our way back into it and then to go down to 10 men and not really have two banks of four was disappointing - we were still a bit jagged in our shape so that's something we've got to look at.”

But Doherty said he enjoyed a “competitive” afternoon against Preston's front men, including former team-mate Brown.

“Brownie has always been a handful. I was sad to see him go because as a defender you appreciate how good he is when you train against him,” said Doherty.

“They've got a few big lads, they brought on Mellor on as well, who got a terrific goal. They've got a lot of stature up front, so it was difficult for us, but I thought we coped well.”

Doherty spent three months on the sidelines following an ankle operation after being injured in City's first tour match in Sweden in July.

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