Martin could start against Preston

CHRIS LAKEY Teenage striker Chris Martin could be in line for his full debut for City at Preston tonight.The 18-year-old has seen action as a sub in City's last three games - scoring the extra-time winner against Blackpool a week ago that earned City their trip to Chelsea.

CHRIS LAKEY

Teenage striker Chris Martin could be in line for his full debut for City at Preston tonight.

The 18-year-old has seen action as a sub in City's last three games - scoring the extra-time winner against Blackpool a week ago that earned City their trip to Premiership champions Chelsea at the weekend.

With Darren Huckerby suspended for tonight's Deepdale clash - and Robert Earnshaw on the sidelines with a long-term injury ­- Martin could figure up front alongside Chris Brown.


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Much depends on manager Peter Grant's preferred formation - and midfielder Youssef Safri's fitness. If Safri is ruled out Grant might well go 4-4-2 - and that's where Martin comes firmly into the equation.

“It's needs must - but not even that because he is putting himself in the picture with his performances,” said Grant.

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“I would have no qualms playing him, I had no qualms playing him against Chelsea, that's why I put him on late in the game. I felt we had a sniff and if he'd got a chance he would have taken it, I genuinely feel that.

“I would have no qualms playing Chris - it is just making sure it's the right time to get 90 minutes into him because no matter who you are it is a massive jump, on a fitness level, every type of level, to the Championship from playing youth football.

“It is getting to know the players, getting to know what we are about because to be perfectly honest he hasn't known anything about us since the last five or six weeks.

“Going to Preston and playing him there I would have no problem with.”

With Safri doubtful and Dickson Etuhu suspended, Mark Fotheringham's hopes of a second start increase dramatically.

The Scottish midfielder played the final half hour at Chelsea, and Grant admitted it had been touch and go whether or not he started.

“Mark is right at the forefront,” he said. “He is one of the boys I thought about on Saturday, whether I started him or whether I didn't, because Chelsea is his sort of arena. He would have thought he was as good as any of the Chelsea boys because he has that bit of bravado about him. He is a top quality player.

“It was a tough choice to leave him out at the weekend because he has got something a wee bit different, he can create moments of magic. He will get his chance to show people how good he is by doing the proper things, now it is just a matter of doing it for the team because we know what he can do on the ball. He has got to realise it is not a magnet either, he just wants to touch it all the time.”

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