Grant proud of his City battlers

Peter Grant saw the shoots of a new Norwich City emerging as the Canaries ended a week dominated by illness and injury with an opening day point at Preston on Saturday.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Peter Grant saw the shoots of a new Norwich City emerging as the Canaries ended a week dominated by illness and injury with an opening day point at Preston on Saturday.

A goal-less draw at Deepdale was acceptable for Grant, given that he had had to formulate his plans around the after-effects of “Barbie-gate” - the ill-fated Sunday afternoon club barbecue eight days ago which left its mark on half a dozen first team players.

It wasn't pretty, but it was effective - and while there's still work to be done, Grant was happy to escape with a point.

“It's a very difficult place to come,” said the City boss. “It was a much, much better performance here last year and we lost the game. I'm very pleased with a point, but Preston will be disappointed and I understand why - but that is part of the game, you are going to have a lot of games like that.

“If we can dig in and draw 0-0 in games like that, with performances like that, and not lose the game, that shows you are making a step forward because there is no doubt we would have lost that game last year.”

Most Read

Darren Huckerby was always going to miss the game with a groin injury, but the aftermath of Barbie-gate was something of an unknown quantity- so Grant left Jamie Cureton and David Strihavka on the bench, while less of a risk was taken with Chris Martin, who travelled but failed to make the final 16.

“Jamie has been looking bright in training and through the summer he's got his fitness levels up and then he got hit with a hammer blow that he was not going to be fit,” said Grant. “David Strihavka was the same - David had a bit of illness but he had an injury midweek as well on his knee. I just felt we would have a go with Dion Dublin, who just came back to training on Thursday. David joined in Thursday and Jamie joined in Friday.

“I just felt it was too much to play them - we had to take the weather into consideration with the team we selected. We need a little bit more legs in the middle of the pitch, but some of the guys who played had to play more than were selected. Credit to them for that - but we will be looking for much better performances.”

A clean sheet by a defence well protected by debutant Julien Brellier was counter-balanced by a lack of creativity elsewhere.

“Can I criticise the back four after a clean sheet? Yes I can - but that's the standards I have got to set - much higher than they showed today,” added Grant. “But saying that I have to pat them on the back for the other side of it.

“I think on the day they battled hard, dug in. They have had to do that during the week because we have had hardly anybody on the training field. You don't like going into a new season like that, but credit to them. It's a clean sheet, they dug in, showed their resilience, but still lacked that quality on the ball and that disappointed me.

“It made their work a lot harder because of their distribution and giving the ball away cheaply. Maybe it's the guys I played, some of them I played hadn't trained all week and maybe it was fatigue setting in. I think you can see that in their general play, but the pleasing thing was I thought Brellier was outstanding. I thought he worked really hard and he will be an asset to us. Chris Brown led the line well without much service.”

Grant now has to prepare a side for the visit of Barnet tomorrow in the first round of the Carling Cup, but while the illness appears to be a thing of the past, there will definitely be no place for Huckerby.

“He has not got a chance yet,” said Grant. “That is one I am not going to take a chance with, unless he tells me he is pain free completely. At this moment in time he still feels it a little bit - but that little bit is still too much for me to take a chance with.”