Croft losing battle to face Saints

Lee Croft looks like losing his battle to be fit for this weekend's final home game of the season. The Canaries winger suffered a shin injury against Ipswich last weekend, leaving manager Peter Grant with a problem down his right flank for the visit of Southampton tomorrow.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Lee Croft looks like losing his battle to be fit for this weekend's final home game of the season.

The Canaries winger suffered a shin injury against Ipswich last weekend, leaving manager Peter Grant with a problem down his right flank for the visit of Southampton tomorrow.

With Luke Chadwick also sidelined, Grant could turn to Andy Hughes - who has made the right back position his own in recent weeks, but shown his adaptability by putting in shifts at left back, and across the midfield - or young striker Chris Martin.


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Croft has been in the wars recently, suffering a hip injury at Burnley and then picking up a painful blow to the shin in the derby draw with Ipswich last Sunday.

“It's disappointing,” said Grant. “Especially with Chadwick still out - it gives you again a little imbalance in the wide areas of the pitch. There is a lot of bruising there and we are disappointed for him because he's worked hard with the injuries he has had this season. To come back and pick one up with a couple of games to go is disappointing.

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“You know what players are like sometimes - he is sore, he won't train today, but they see movement and the good thing is the bruising is all there so we can see that. Sometimes it goes as quick as, but he hasn't trained, he's done nothing apart from the gym work so he is a major doubt for the weekend.

“Depending on how badly the bruising affects him it is one of those ones, you can maybe get away with it, maybe not this weekend but next weekend. Sod's law the first knock you get on it you need to come off, so that is the problem. Is it worth that?

“You run imbalanced any way when you are carrying something and you end up with groins whatever and am I willing to take that chance? Probably not because we have had enough injuries this season. I don't need anyone in the close season carrying injuries because we have a whole lot of work to do during the close season and I don't want anyone to pull out of it really because there is a lot of fitness work to be done throughout the break to get us back hopefully with a squad to choose from next season.”

Grant has few options, thanks to a growing injury list, with Simon Lappin, Youssef Safri and Gary Doherty definitely out.

Doherty has had surgery on a stomach hernia and won't be seen before next season, while Lappin and Safri are in the frame for the final game of the season, at Sheffield Wednesday next Sunday.

Lappin has had a pin inserted into his thumb and is wearing a plaster cast while doing his gym work, and while this weekend is too early, there may be a solution in sight for an appearance at Hillsborough.

“There are certain things you can do now, like put a lighter cast on, so that's something,” said Grant. “Whether it is available for this weekend I am not so sure, but I'd hope he would be available maybe for the next week.”

Safri is still nursing a hamstring, but Grant is hoping he, too, could feature before season end.

“Saff is very close,” he said. “Am I willing to take that chance? Hamstrings can be six weeks if you don't do them properly. He has not trained with us yet and that always puts a major doubt in my mind anyway.

“He has been training and a bit of running and a little bit of kicking of the ball and still has aches and pains, so he has not joined in as yet. He could get up and do a bit of kicking and feel less pain and could be involved.

“I am hoping to see him before the end of the season, but I will not take any risks on him. I know he has got internationals in the summer, also the fact that we have work to do in the summer and I don't want anybody missing out on that because of other injuries we could have prevented.”

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