Defensive headache for Norwich City manager ahead of Crystal Palace

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert has a couple of defensive problems on his hands ahead of the visit from Crystal Palace tomorrow (7.45pm).

Centre-back Elliott Ward – the only City player to have played every minute of the season to date – will serve a one match suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the campaign in the encouraging goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

With fellow centre-backs Michael Nelson (ankle) and Zak Whitbread (calf) still some way from being in contention for a return to action, Danish defender Jens Berthel Askou is the only natural replacement at Lambert's disposal.

Another option would be to switch Russell Martin across from right-back – but that would merely move the problem rather than solve it, with Martin's only cover taking the form of youngster George Francomb – currently on loan at League Two Barnet.

Adam Drury could also be another candidate, but he is a doubt after suffering a calf strain at the Championship leaders on the weekend with Steven Smith waiting in the wings for his first start at Carrow Road since joining from Rangers in the summer.

Norwich, third in the table, will be hoping to build on their run of one defeat in five matches, with Palace and struggling Middlesbrough the opposition at Carrow Road tomorrow and Saturday respectively.

Only Bristol City are keeping Palace off the foot of the Championship and they have picked up just one point on their travels this season.