Martin could get his chance today

CHRIS LAKEY Teenage striker Chris Martin could be asked to fill the illustrious shooting boots of injured leading scorer Robert Earnshaw at Burnley today.


Teenage striker Chris Martin could be asked to fill the illustrious shooting boots of injured leading scorer Robert Earnshaw at Burnley today.

The 18-year-old is clearly highly regarded by manager Peter Grant, who says he could be just the player to inject some spark into a misfiring City side.

Martin has trained with the first team squad this week and is clearly high up in Grant's thinking for the trip to Burnley.

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“Young Chris Martin has done exceptionally well in the youth team and has trained with us the last few days and has been a shining light in training,” said Grant.

“He has a wonderful talent - it is just a matter of managing that now. Sometimes there is a cloud there, sometimes there is a silver lining, so hopefully he can be that.”

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The cloud is the long-term injury to 17-goal Earnshaw, but it seems with Grant it never rains but it pours and, once again, he finds himself worrying over the fitness of senior players.

Central defender Jason Shackell is the big injury worry this time and it is his availability, or otherwise, which could trigger the decision on Martin.

Shackell has an ankle problem, which will require a late fitness test, and should he fail to come through it would almost certainly mean Dion Dublin is, once again, asked to fill in at the back.

That would give new boy Chris Brown his first start - and if Grant plays two up front Martin would be favourite to play alongside him ahead of the disappointing Paul McVeigh.

Shackell, who has missed training this week, clearly holds the key.

“He played last week, and had a fitness test before the game but you could see that he was struggling with his left ankle,” said Grant.

“That is why he couldn't pass the ball right - that wasn't an excuse, that's a fact, but he was desperate to play and we felt it was important to keep the back four as solid as we could. He felt he could get through the game, but I look back now and I don't think he did himself justice. He has not trained all week and we will give him to the last moment to see if he is available.”

Should Shackell make it, Grant's choices increase by the power of one - Dublin - and he says he is not concerned about fielding him alongside Brown.

“They are not similar, they have different attributes,” he said. “ Chris Brown is more mobile, he can stretch the opposition, get behind them.

“Dion, because of his experience and know-how and knowledge of the game, is a different type of player. Because of Chris' height everybody thinks he is a target player - I would probably say he is the opposite, a technically better footballer. We have a different combination there.

“I have thought about the team long and hard because we need something different, we can't keep being as up and down as we are.”

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