Welcome break for Norwich City's injured
David Cuffley The international break may prove a timely breather for Norwich City - despite their promising start to the Championship season. The Canaries face a blank weekend when they might have been in the perfect frame of mind to build on the three excellent results they have strung together since the opening day home defeat by Watford.
The international break may prove a timely breather for Norwich City - despite their promising start to the Championship season.
The Canaries face a blank weekend when they might have been in the perfect frame of mind to build on the three excellent results they have strung together since the opening day home defeat by Watford.
But just four weeks into the campaign, manager Paul Lambert's injury list is already long enough that City may just welcome a stint off duty.
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Midfielder Andrew Crofts, who scored in the 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, joined the casualties this week when he withdrew from the Wales squad for tomorrow's European Championship qualifier against Montenegro because of a groin injury.
He became the second City player to miss out on international duty because of injury after 17-year-old goalkeeper Jed Steer pulled out of the England Under-19 squad for tonight's game against Slovakia at Crewe, to be replaced by Sam Johnstone, of Manchester United.
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With centre-half Michael Nelson sidelined for a couple of months by ankle ligament damage and no return to action yet for fellow defenders Steven Smith (ankle) and Zak Whitbread (calf), City have already had their fair share of setbacks.
Centre-half Whitbread last played in the friendly at Stevenage more than six weeks ago, while full-back Smith has not played since suffering an ankle injury on the pre-season trip to Germany.
Lambert would not give an update on the absent pair, beyond the message from Colney that both were “doing fine”.
Like City, their next opponents, Barnsley, had a quiet transfer deadline day but hope to add to their squad before they visit Carrow Road in the Championship in nine days' time.
Manager Mark Robins, the former Norwich striker, is keen to sign one or two strikers as well as a defender as extra cover when the loan window reopens next Tuesday.
He said: “Unfortunately, the players I wanted to bring in are not available at the moment. I've spoken to a number of different people about the players that I'm looking at, but at the moment there's nothing doing.
“That's not to say that won't change - and the loan window reopens next week.”
If the Canaries are looking for omens, they have traditionally produced good results on their first outing after the early-season international break.
They recorded a Premiership draw at Tottenham in 2004, plus Championship victories over Plymouth (2005), Crystal Palace (2007) and Plymouth again (2008). The one exception was the 3-0 defeat at Coventry in 2006 that signalled the beginning of the end for Nigel Worthington as manager.