Worthy - McVeigh's return will lift us

RICK WAGHORN City boss Nigel Worthington today rolled out the welcome mat for striker Paul McVeigh ahead of Saturday's crunch clash with Coca-Cola Championship promotion hopefuls Watford.


City boss Nigel Worthington today rolled out the welcome mat for striker Paul McVeigh ahead of Saturday's crunch clash with Coca-Cola Championship promotion hopefuls Watford.

The City hit man was in flying form with five goals in seven outings before serving a one-match ban last weekend.

Worthington is clearly intent on throwing the one-time Northern Ireland international forward straight back into the fray as he looks to McVeigh to give the Canaries that extra sting against the high-flying Hornets.

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“Circumstances dictated that Paul wasn't available last Saturday, so he's had that little breather, had the chance to recharge and get ready to go again and I'm looking forward to a big performance from him again on Saturday,” said Worthington.

McVeigh's availability comes as a welcome boost for Worthington with his lengthy list of injured and absent still dominating his pre-match thoughts.

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As ever, all eyes will be centred on Dean Ashton's availability with the City chief hoping that a return to simply playing a game of football will prove a welcome distraction from the endless round of transfer speculation.

“Dean is going to be touch and go for Saturday. He's got a niggly groin strain - the same one that kept him out of the West Ham game. We'll just see where he's at on Saturday morning.”

Where he's at transfer wise is quite simply exactly where he was at last week, according to the City manager, who said there was nothing new to report on that front.

As for whether all the talk has affected the player himself, Worthington admitted it was inevitable that one or two thoughts might be crossing Ashton's mind - particularly after a relatively quiet afternoon at Plymouth last Saturday.

“I'm sure there's going to be something in his head about all the speculation, but I'm sure Dean wouldn't be looking to use that as an excuse for not putting in a good performance,” said Worthington, impressed by the manner in which the coveted 22-year-old has gone about his business this week.

“He's been fine - just getting on with his work. It's just the same situation, really.”

As for the rest of City's walking wounded, number two 'keeper Darren Ward remains sidelined with a back injury, though there was good news for centre-half Jason Shackell, who has been given the all-clear to push on with his recovery following lengthy ankle trouble.

“Jason saw a specialist on Tuesday and he said to carry on and just see if there's any reaction,” said Worthington.

The next hurdle for the youngster will be to break the central defensive partnership of Gary Doherty and club skipper Craig Fleming - not an easy prospect given Worthington's delight at their efforts over the festive period.

“I think they've been excellent,” said the manager. “Gary Doherty has been outstanding in 99.9 per cent of the games this season and, since he's come back in, Craig Fleming has been excellent. They've just got to keep it going.”

As for the possibility of any fresh faces arriving within the transfer window, Worthington remained hopeful as he confirmed that club directors Michael Wynn Jones, Delia Smith and Michael Foulger had given him more funds to play with following this week's £50,000 arrival of Carl Robinson.

“Michael, Delia and Mr Foulger have very kindly put some money in the pot that is available for transfers so there is some money to spend but there will be nothing before the weekend.”

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