Jonny Howson faces long-term ankle lay-off, confirms Alex Neil after Norwich City’s 1-0 Preston defeat

Norwich City boss Alex Neil confirmed after his side's Preston defeat Jonny Howson faces a lengthy l

Norwich City boss Alex Neil confirmed after his side's Preston defeat Jonny Howson faces a lengthy lay-off following ankle surgery. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil watched Norwich City suffer a first Championship home defeat to Preston this season and then revealed Jonny Howson will be out long-term following ankle surgery.

Neil delivered the gloomy injury bulletin after his side's lacklustre offering at Carrow Road, with Alex Baptiste rising unmarked to head home a second-half free kick for the Lilywhites. Howson had missed the previous two Championship games and City will have to do without him until potentially the New Year.

'Jonny has had an operation and he is going to be out for the foreseeable future,' said Neil. 'It is not ligament damage. He just had to get something removed. We are looking at a couple of months.

'It is a huge blow. He is an experienced player who can play in a variety of positions and when he is not there, and with Youssouf Mulumbu out with his foot injury, then we are relying on a lot of the younger lads. Jacob Murphy has had to play again today because that right-hand side is a bit light when Jonny is not there. Matt Jarvis is not fit yet as well and then we have Josh Murphy and Alex (Pritchard) so it doesn't help.'

City suffered an injury blow prior to kick-off when Ivo Pinto had to be pulled out of the starting line up after suffering a groin problem in the warm up.

'Ivo just felt his groin tighten. He was struggling and it was painful,' said Neil. 'It is one of those it might be a strain at the moment but if we made him play it might have turned into a rupture and that could mean months.

'It was an easy call. He couldn't play and it restricted us in a way, with his natural aggression in terms of how high he wants to play and he gives us that natural width we look for. Russell (Martin) is more conservative as a full-back and we were not over-loading that side as much as we normally would.'

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Captain Martin and Timm Klose were also in the wars late on.

'Russell lost a wee bit of sensation in his arm at the end but he should be fine,' said Neil. 'Timm needed a couple of stitches in his head but he should be okay. We are really frustrated. We had plenty of the ball but we didn't create enough clear-cut chances. One of our best chances came in the first 15 seconds with Cameron Jerome. He hits the post late on, we have a couple of bits and bobs but nothing like normal.

'At home before we have been creative and broke stubborn teams down who sit men behind the ball. I don't think in an attacking-sense we did that as well as normal. We had a couple of key players who were not at their peak today.

'The goal is sloppy and weak from us. It is a set play and we have defended them all game. It is not as if they have done something different or changed it up. Alex Baptiste wanders in from the middle of the box and has a free header. We have to take responsibility to put our head on the ball. They did it all game, so it is not as if I am asking something special.'

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