Lewis Grabban is ready to come to the party for Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Lewis Grabban is ready to be unleashed on Middlesbrough if Alex Neil decides the striker can damage the Teessiders at Wembley.
The Norwich hitman endured a frustrating finish to the regular Championship season after undergoing ankle surgery and then serving a three-match ban following his rash red card moment at Rotherham in the Canaries' 1-1 league draw.
Two-thirds of those questioned in an online Pinkun poll this week cast doubt over whether Grabban should be restored to the Wembley starting line-up, but the man who matters has no such reservations.
Neil elected not to risk the 27-year-old as an over-age player in the midweek development league 2-2 draw against Chelsea after a behind-closed-doors outing in a practice match the previous week.
'That was one of those situations where it was close to this match and obviously Lewis had the operation on his ankle not that long ago so to me it is whether you take that gamble and I decided I didn't want to,' said Neil. 'With the amount of training and the intensity of the training he'll get as much out of that as he would playing the other day.
'That is why I made the decision not to include him. He is okay. He has been training fully for the last three weeks.
'He played in a practice game last week to get him some minutes under his belt so he is fine, he is raring to go.
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'Yes, he can come in and do a job. Lewis is a naturally fit lad. If you look at him he is a proper specimen, in terms of being an athlete, and the one thing about him is he has a great work-rate.
'I have no concerns in that respect. Now he has served his suspension I think it is the first time in a long time we have a clean bill of health.'
Neil welcomes inevitable selections posers from a fully-available pool of senior players for Norwich's biggest game of the season, after those he entrusted responded superbly in the 4-2 semi-final aggregate win over East Anglian rivals Ipswich.
'I've got decisions to make every week, it's not as if this week is any different. What's at stake is different but that's the only difference really,' he said. 'I know exactly what I want to do. It's about picking the right team for the game, that's the most important thing.
'We started our preparation on Thursday, did a bit more (on Friday) and we'll be continuing over these next few days and then travel down on Sunday to make our final preparations.
'The players are relaxed and it is important to keep it that way just now - that will quickly change when it comes to game-time. There is no point in getting hyped up at this stage because we can't do anything about it at the moment.'
The City chief is not being distracted by the fitness issues around Middlesbrough's on-loan Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford. The Championship player-of-the-year is reportedly battling to overcome an ankle problem suffered originally in the Teessiders' 1-0 league win at Carrow Road last month.
'I'll be really surprised if he doesn't play,' said Neil. 'It doesn't make any difference now what anyone says, whether it is about the game or the players. It is just chat to maybe influence things - we know what is at stake and we are really looking forward to it.'
• Back-up keeper Mark Bunn used his personal Twitter account on Friday night to confirm his departure from Norwich City.
Neil had made it clear the experienced stopper was behind the likes of Declan Rudd and Remi Matthews in the pecking order to first choice John Ruddy and Bunn's contract has not been renewed.
Bunn tweeted: 'My time at Norwich has come to an end!! Gonna miss the lads,great bunch of goodd guys!! On to the next chapter in my career can't wait!!'
The 30-year-old made 31 appearances for the Canaries after signing from Blackburn in August 2012 but Bunn's last senior outing for the Canaries came in a 3-0 FA Cup third round replay defeat to Fulham in January 2014.
Bunn is the latest player to announce his departure from the club after young Irish defender Kyle McFadden confirmed he will leave this summer following the midweek development league 2-2 draw against Chelsea's U21s.