Hunter facing injury list test

Caretaker boss Martin Hunter is facing a growing casualty list as he prepares for his first match in charge of Norwich City.

Caretaker boss Martin Hunter is facing a growing casualty list as he prepares for his first match in charge of Norwich City.

Hunter, in the manager's chair while the Canaries continue their search for a permanent replacement for the sacked Nigel Worthington, has a string of injury worries to contend with ahead of Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship game at Queen's Park Rangers.

Midfielders Youssef Safri and Andy Hughes, plus striker Peter Thorne, have been added to an injured list that already includes Dickson Etuhu, Gary Doherty and Ian Henderson, while skipper Adam Drury is rated “50/50” to return at Loftus Road after an ankle operation ruled him out of the last four matches.

With two tough games in the space of four days - City also visit Birmingham next week - Hunter needs every available man to help boost his chances of reviving the team's fortunes and securing the job full-time after the last five league matches under Worthington yielded just one point.

Said Hunter: “Adam Drury is starting back into training. He's had his ankle cleaned out. It will depend on how he comes through this week. I would say he's 50/50 for Saturday.”

Midfielder Etuhu missed the 4-1 defeat by Burnley with a sore ankle, while central defender Doherty is sidelined by an Achilles problem - but is in any case suspended for Saturday's game because of his red card against the Clarets.

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“We should know more about Dickson early this week. Gary Doherty has an Achilles injury and won't be training until later on this week,” said Hunter. “Peter Thorne has a rib injury and is under treatment, and Andy Hughes has a knee injury.”

Safri, away at an international training camp with Morocco, is another doubt with a calf problem.

“We have a reserve game at home to Stevenage on Wednesday but I doubt whether I will be risking any of the senior players in that match,” said Hunter.

Henderson faces at least another month on the sidelines with the knee ligament damage he suffered at Rotherham three weeks ago, but goalkeeper Joe Lewis's return to action has at least provided one bright note for Hunter. Lewis played for City in last Wednesday's benefit match for Shaun Carey at King's Lynn.

“Joe has fully recovered from his fractured cheekbone, has been training 2½ weeks and it was good to see him get a game,” said Hunter.

Despite his injury problems and the uncertainty over the post of manager, Hunter remains upbeat as he prepares for a potential baptism of fire against a Rangers side that has won its last two matches under John Gregory.

He said: “Everything's going nice and smoothly and everybody is looking forward to the game on Saturday. I am just getting on with things until people have been interviewed and then we'll take it from there.”