Grant to make Hucks wait a little longer

CHRIS LAKEY Darren Huckerby is set to make his full Norwich City comeback next week. Huckerby - who hasn't started a senior game this season and missed all of the summer build-up campaign - took the first steps to a return when he played for the reserves in midweek.

CHRIS LAKEY

Darren Huckerby is set to make his full Norwich City comeback next week.

Huckerby - who hasn't started a senior game this season and missed all of the summer build-up campaign - took the first steps to a return when he played for the reserves in midweek.

He is unlikely to take part in the game at Hull tomorrow - although he may make the trip to the KC Stadium as part of his rehabilitation.


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But the good news for City fans is that he isn't far away from playing - and the bad news for Rochdale is that it could be in next Tuesday's Carling Cup second round tie at Spotland.

“Hucks got 50 minutes the other night, which was important for him psychologically more than anything,” said manager Peter Grant. “He still has a bit of work to do there and I will maybe involve him in the group more than anything else, for himself.

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“If he is not involved at the weekend I will probably look at giving him a part of Tuesday's game.”

However, the door hasn't completely closed on a surprise Huckerby appearance, even from the bench, at Hull.

“I think he is short of that yet, but needs must at certain times,” said Grant.

Huckerby has been suffering from a groin/hip problem, but while his general fitness levels are generally high, Grant warned against a premature return.

“Darren says he's eight weeks behind the others, but it's May 7 last season since his last game,” he said. “He has done all his training and you feel you are great, but sometimes adrenaline gets you through the first 40, 50 minutes.

“In the first game you are so excited at getting back, then a soreness comes in after that and we have to be very, very careful that he doesn't pick up injuries elsewhere because it is completely different - you are checking, you are running differently, you are playing against opposition that is going to take any prisoners.

“We know his enthusiasm to play but he knows he is still short. We will assess Darren as he goes along - yes, it will be great when he is back fully fit.”

Grant is definitely without midfielders Mark Fotheringham and Jimmy Smith - both because of ankle ligament damage - and also has doubts over two other midfielders, Simon Lappin and Julien Brellier.

Lappin has a thigh strain and will be given up to the last moment to declare his fitness, while Brellier attempts to play fitness catch-up are still a concern as he tries to shake off a fitness which could lead to injury.

“Julien has not trained since the game at the weekend,” said Grant. “It is just a matter of the stiffness - we can't afford to have him injured. Last week you could see him and Rusty (Darel Russell) in the game lacked match fitness. You could see them reading the game well enough, but when they got the ball they just couldn't move their feet quick enough.”

Grant blames their late arrival as summer signings and the fact they came in after the rest of his playing staff were well advanced with their training schedules.

“It is frustrating him - the fact that he wants to train every day, and we have to say he can't do it because there is a tightness there and he can't afford it to be four or five weeks, so he is missing the first part of the week and training the last part of the week, and it is not ideal.”

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