Brellier and Russell start less than 100 percent'

CHRIS LAKEY The fitness of two of Norwich City's important midfield summer arrivals will be put to the test at Preston tomorrow. Julien Brellier and Darel Russell are likely to start in the City engine room, even though they have featured in only two pre-season warm-up games.

CHRIS LAKEY

By CHRIS LAKEY

The fitness of two of Norwich City's important midfield summer arrivals will be put to the test at Preston tomorrow .

Julien Brellier and Darel Russell are likely to start in the City engine room, even though they have featured in only two pre-season warm-up games.

Brellier started the game at King's Lynn but didn't appear for the second half after picking up a thigh injury, which put him out of action until the final summer fixture, against Vitesse Arnhem a week ago.

Russell was only available for the last two games after his move from Stoke - for whom he had made a brief appearance against Real Madrid - but managed to get in more than an hour against West ham and then Vitesse.

Most Read

However, City manager Peter Grant admits that while both players are ready to make the trip to the north-west, they are still short of match practice.

“I wouldn't say they are 100pc, but they are ready to go,” said Grant. “I think it is difficult because of the amount of work we did in the close season, the players individually, and the fitness levels they were at before we started training, and then the work they put in during training plus the games. Probably that is thing, they are short of, games.

“Fitness wise their levels are decent - Darel has a natural fitness level anyway and Julien prides himself on his fitness.

“The biggest difficulty is getting that match fitness, which probably both of them have missed out on in the close season - but everything else they make up for with desire.

“I think there is a desire within the two of them. I would have no problems with starting them.

“Julien has had no recurrence of the injury, touch wood, and Darel never had that injury problem anyway, it was just a matter of getting his lungs going.

“I think we gave him more time over the last two games than we wanted to and he has dealt with that comfortably.”

Grant confirmed that back-up keeper Matthew Gilks would be fit to travel after missing out on the squad for the Vitesse game.

“Matty had got a bump on his knee but he was fine,” Grant explained. “I didn't want things flaring up this close to the season. He has been training and had no problem in that respect. He has done exceptionally well and we are very pleased with him, as a young man we think he has something to offer and that's what pushes Marsh.”