Nelson injury a big blow says new-boy Ward

Norwich City defender Elliott Ward admitted Michael Nelson's ankle injury is a massive blow for the Canaries. Nelson is poised for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after scans confirmed Ward's central defensive partner had suffered ligament damage in the weekend Championship win over Swansea.

Nelson is poised for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after scans confirmed Ward's central defensive partner had suffered ligament damage in the weekend Championship win over Swansea.

Norwich boss Paul Lambert was yesterday <weds>strongly linked with a loan move for West Brom defender Leon Barnett after confirming he was tracking a potential short term signing following City's Carling Cup exit at Blackburn.

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Barnett made his first appearance of the campaign with a 90 minute outing in West Brom's second round win at Orient having spent most of last season on loan at Coventry. Ward played alongside the former Luton defender at the Ricoh but insisted Nelson will be a hard act to follow.

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'It's a massive blow, I'm absolutely gutted for him,' he said. 'He has been a rock, a big player for us and he has taken to this league really well. We we're steadily getting a partnership together and for it to be broken so early on is a shame for the both of us when you don't have the biggest squad.

'That is the nature of the game. It was a strange one his injury, to be fair, I didn't really know until after the game how bad it was but it has been sorted now and hopefully Nels will be back sooner rather than later.'

Ward is confident his own Achilles problems are fully behind him after an injury-hit pre-season.

'I'm over that now and with every game I feel I'm getting stronger,' he said. 'Watford was my first 90 minutes and as much as it didn't go as we wanted, for me, I felt it helped me get some of the cobwebs off. I want to get stronger and work on things in my own game and that is coming together. Maybe as a team we needed Watford because in this league you really never know, sometimes to lose a game so early is a good test to see how you can cope and how you can bounce back. We've done very well in the league. It was a shame about Blackburn but it was a bit of distraction and we can now look forward to Forest.'

Ward partnered Jens Berthel Askou during the midweek Carling Cup defeat at Ewood Park where Man United loan striker Mame Biram Diouf's hat-trick sunk the Canaries.

'It was disappointing when you look at the result to have conceded three goals and you know if you look at it there is certain things we could have done to stop that,' said Ward. 'We didn't really create too many chances in the first half and the goal they scored came from a bit of a sloppy one where someone hasn't picked up the runner.

'We still had a couple of chances and during the second half we passed it around well. I think in the end a bit more experience told, a bit more awareness of the game and maybe we got a little bit tired. A few lads haven't played much football and we also had a few young lads but we held out own for a lot of it. I think the game was probably there for us.'

Ward is one of Lambert's most experienced Championship performers after more than 130 league appearances in the second tier. The 25-year-old insists City are good enough to compete this season.

'The biggest thing you have to realise is that you will go on a bad run and a good run,' he said. 'When you are on a high you have to make sure you continue to do things right when it goes the other way you have to stick together. We've only played four games, we have 40 odd left so it's a long old season. As long as we're lucky with injuries and we can keep the squad tight then I think we'll be alright.'

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