Hucks in race for kick-off

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City may be forced to start the new Championship season without star man Darren Huckerby.

CHRIS LAKEY

Norwich City may be forced to start the new Championship season without star man Darren Huckerby.

The flying winger has failed to make an appearance in pre-season because of a groin injury - and manager Peter Grant admitted yesterday he was planning for life without his ace in the pack.

"We will give him right up to the last moment," said Grant. "We have to look at it now as if he is not going to be available, that is the way I am preparing anyway, anything else is a bonus.

"He is doing a hell of a lot of work, but I don't want him back for a couple of games and then lose him two weeks down the line for another six or eight weeks, that would be a total waste of time."

Huckerby was expected to have taken part in the friendly at King's Lynn, but Grant had a change of heart, and although he was taken to Holland for the tour matches, he was sent home for extra treatment after just two days.

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The consolation for Grant - who sends his side out for their final pre-season game of the summer tonight, against Vitesse Arnhem at Carrow Road - is that Huckerby is one of the fittest players in his squad.

"I know he had a groin strain before - it seems to be an occurrence with him, especially pre-season by all accounts, and that concerns me a little bit," Grant added. "But the thing about Darren is his work ethic away from the training fields is magnificent anyway.

"The way he plays and trains is in fits and starts, short bursts, and his general fitness is not a problem."

Should Huckerby miss out next weekend, then Grant could well look to Luke Chadwick to cover the left flank

Grant said: "At the end of the day that's the name of the game - it's like Earnie (Robert Earnshaw) last year.

"We lost him for a long period of time, and if we have to hang our hat on Hucks all the time it means we haven't got good enough quality.

"There is no doubt about Darren's quality and he is a match winner for us and we would love to have him available - and that is the reason I am being cautious with him."