Lewis Grabban is ready to fire Norwich City to the Premier League

Norwich manager Alex Neil passes on final instructions to Lewis Grabban at Bolton. Picture by Paul C

Norwich manager Alex Neil passes on final instructions to Lewis Grabban at Bolton. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Lewis Grabban will play a massive part in Norwich City's final Championship promotion assault.

Alex Neil fast-tracked the fit-again striker back into his plans after a quicker than predicted recovery from ankle surgery for the last quarter of Saturday's 2-1 win at Bolton.

Grabban had scored five in five as Neil's chief attacking spearhead prior to his injury exit, and the City boss is prepared to hand his leading man a key role.

'The fact Lewis had played such a pivotal part since I had been here means he can quickly get up into his stride again,' said Neil. 'He has been fine, he is training and doing quite a lot.

'You have to remember, like I said before the game, Lewis had only been out for four weeks. That is not a vast amount of time when you compare it with Elliott or Ryan Bennett, who have been out for three months.

'Vadis (Ofoe) has been out pretty much for a full season. For them to come back and be incorporated into the starting XI at this stage of the season, with what is at stake, is a tall order.'

Grabban's return was not the headline story on a day when fellow substitute Gary Hooper underlined his own value to the cause with an instinctive match-winning goal. Hooper has had limited chances to impress in recent times but Neil insists he remains firmly in his thoughts.

Most Read

'Gary is always pushing for a regular start,' he said. 'I have probably 18 or 19 players here who could all go into the first team so it is just about picking the right combinations and then trying to make sure the balance is right for each game and we use the lads in form who I feel can hurt the opposition. Gary has started certain games for me and done well and perhaps in other games not done so well.'

Neil accepted Norwich could have avoided such a tense finale if they had converted their early superiority following Graham Dorrans' deflected free-kick, before Adam Le Fondre punished the visitors when he slotted home Tom Walker's inviting cross.

'Once we scored we had a couple of other opportunities where we should have done better,' said Neil. 'There was some decent play in and around the box where the final pass was lacking.

'I thought we came out of the traps strongly. The goal was conceded was unlike us. We just got dragged out. We over-committed to the left-hand side of the pitch and left ourselves short in the middle.

'We actually did it again about five minutes later and Martin Olsson had to produce a fantastic clearing header. Generally our gaps between the lines, in terms of defence, are very good. We had a chat about it at half-time and in that respect we improved in the second half. You have to give credit to Bolton. It is very unusual that you come up against two up top, one in behind and four across the middle, with wingers.

'At times we were up against four or five and that is difficult to handle at any level.'