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Team news: Ryan Bennett ruled out of Norwich City’s clash with Cardiff but Steven Whittaker will be available

PUBLISHED: 13:53 16 January 2015 | UPDATED: 16:32 16 January 2015

Steven Whittaker of Norwich and Marc Pugh of Bournemouth in action during the match at the Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth
. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Steven Whittaker of Norwich and Marc Pugh of Bournemouth in action during the match at the Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth . Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Norwich City centre-back Ryan Bennett is facing two weeks on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury in his side’s 2-1 win at Bournemouth last weekend.

Bennett was initially introduced from the substitutes bench in the 60th minute as right-back Steven Whittaker was struggling with illness.

Russell Martin was switched to right-back following that change but Bennett then pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced seven minutes later.

That saw midfielder Gary O’Neil brought on in his place, with Martin switching back to the centre of defence and Alex Tettey asked to cover at full-back.

Tettey is now a doubt for the Bluebirds’ visit with a groin injury and City manager Alex Neil revealed at Colney on Friday afternoon the Norwegian international had not trained with the rest of the squad this week.

“It is touch and go at the moment,” he said. “He has not done a great deal this week in terms of training with the lads but he has been working with the strength and conditioning guys. He is certainly someone who I will leave until the last minute.”

Carlos Cuellar is back in training after his calf injury and available for selection. Vadis Ofoe and Sebastien Bassong will not be considered this weekend and Elliott Benentt (hamstring) is also ruled out.

Neil did confirm Steven Whittaker has recovered from the sickness that saw him replaced by Ryan Bennett at Bournemouth before the central defender was forced off after eight minutes.

“He’s been better. He missed training on Monday but he joined in the next two days, so Steven will be fine for tomorrow,” Neil told Norwich City TV.

“Ryan’s got a grade one tear on his hamstring, so you’re probably talking maybe two weeks.”

Neil will also be without midfielder Jonny Howson, who was sent off in the second half of the victory at Bournemouth. City had appealed against the decision but that appeal failed and the 26-year-old is now set to miss three games through suspension.

“We made an appeal against Howson’s red card, but unfortunately for us it got rejected,” Neil added. “Jonny’s a big player for the club as well, so that’s a bit of a blow but we’ve got guys who can come in and fill in.”

What do you think the Norwich City starting XI should be against Cardiff? Click here to pick your team.

The Scottish manager, who joined the Canaries from Scottish Premiership side Hamilton ahead of the win at Bournemouth, has had his first full week of training with his new squad this week.

And the 33-year-old has been pleased with the progress made at Colney in preparation for the visit of the Bluebirds.

“It’s just been about letting the lads know what their tasks are when they’ve got the ball and when they’ve not got the ball, how we want to go about our business in terms of the actual game itself and looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition,” Neil continued.

“It’s basic stuff, but stuff that if you do properly, can have a real impact on matches.

“I think the lads are getting used to me as well. It’s worked well this week and hopefully that will mean we get a good result on Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping the fans can get behind the team and hopefully we can give them a good performance.”

Cardiff will arrive in Norfolk in 11th place in the Championship table, six points behind City, who are just a point outside off the play-offs in seventh place.

Russell Slade’s team are likely to arrive in good spirits as well, having ended a run of matches without a win by beating Colchester at home in the FA Cup third round and then winning 1-0 at home against Fulham last Saturday.

The Welsh club have won just one league game away from home so far this season but Neil expects a stern test from one of the team’s they were relegated from the Premier League alongside.

“It will be a difficult match. They’re in a similar position to ourselves in that they’ve come down from the Premier League,” the Norwich boss added.

“They are very direct in their play, so we’re going to have to make sure we compete and do the dirty side of the game, because if we can control the ball, with the quality we have then I’m hoping we can be a force to be reckoned with going forward.

“If we can play at our full potential, then we’ve got a good chance of picking up a victory.”

What do you think the Norwich City starting XI should be against Cardiff? Click here to pick your team.

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