City face fixtures backlog

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City face a potential fixture backlog after this afternoon's Championship match at Luton was postponed because of a frozen pitch.

CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City face a potential fixture backlog after this afternoon's Championship match at Luton was postponed because of a frozen pitch.

“We've already got a few midweek games coming up and now we've got this on top of that,” said manager Peter Grant yesterday.

“Unfortunately it's something we can't do much about. I'm very disappointed, but we've just got to deal with it.


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“I don't like fixture congestion because it takes away time you could spend on the training pitches. You are just hoping you get through the period without picking up injuries and suspensions, because that's what can happen when you have a lot of games in quick succession.”

Grant and his players were on the team coach waiting to leave the Colney training ground when word came of the postponement.

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The Kenilworth Road pitch - which does not have the benefit of undersoil heating - had been covered this week to fend off the worst of the snow that fell on Wednesday.

But the pitch was inspected yesterday by match officials, who deemed it unfit - a decision which took into account continuing snowfall and the forecast of sub-zero temperatures overnight.

“Of course, it's a massive disappointment,” added Grant. “After everything that's gone on this week all we wanted was a game of football - that's what we are here for.

“We had done all our work and prepared for the game and just as we were boarding the bus we get the call to say it's been postponed.

“At the end of the day it's something we could have done without. It's disappointing, but we can't dictate what happens.

“We now have to change our focus and make sure we are prepared for the Blackpool game.”

It means City have now suffered two postponements in the space of three weeks, following the late call-off at Burnley on January 20 - a match which will now be played on April 17.

The home game against Derby County next Saturday is definitely off - the Championship leaders are at Plymouth in the fifth round of the FA Cup while City may be at Chelsea in the same competition, should they beat Blackpool in their fourth round replay on Tuesday. Derby now visit Carrow Road on March 6.

Yesterday's postponement leaves few clear midweek dates for the rearranged fixture: Tuesday, February 27 is clear for both teams, but that can only be pencilled in - if City earn to right to play Chelsea and get a draw at Stamford Bridge, that would be the likely replay date. After that, the next midweek date free is March 20 - before the international break - or in the last week of the season.

While City could lag behind the team around them in terms of games played, the consolation for manager Peter Grant is that central defender Jason Shackell - who would have been a doubt for today - has a few more days to improve his fitness after ankle and calf problems.

Tickets bought for the match will be valid for the rearranged fixture, or refunds can be sought by calling the Carrow Road ticket office on 0870 444 1902 or calling in person.

t The Pontins Holiday Combination reserve team game at Stevenage Borough, postponed in midweek, will now be played on Monday, April 30, kick-off 7pm.

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