Norwich City skipper Grant Holt winning fitness race to face Newcastle
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Fit-again Norwich City captain Grant Holt is back in contention for Newcastle's Premier League weekend visit to Carrow Road.
Chris Hughton confirmed at Colney on Thursday afternoon Holt had returned to training after a hamstring injury wrecked his festive period - the striker featured in only one of City's five league and cup tests after damaging his hamstring in the 2-1 Premier League win over Wigan on December 15.
The 31-year-old will be available for selection against the Magpies if he suffers no adverse reaction to his training return. Holt's positive fitness bulletin was a timely boost with Steve Morison (thigh), Andrew Surman (knee), Steven Whittaker (hip) and Jonny Howson all remaining on the sidelines this weekend. Hughton confirmed Howson had recovered from the knee injury which saw him miss the recent FA Cup third round win at Peterborough, but the midfielder has yet to train this week after feeling ill.
'Jon, injury-wise, is absolutely fine,' said Hughton. 'He had to miss a couple of days training as he hasn't felt too well. We expect him to train tomorrow (Friday) but as regards the knee, fine. Andy Surman has probably trained for a week now. It is too early for Saturday but we are hoping he will be fit for Liverpool, providing he continues to have no problems. Steve I think he is going to be a little bit longer than that; at this moment a couple of weeks again of treatment and rehab.
'Grant is going to be close (for Newcastle). He trained this morning. We've probably just got a decision to make on a reaction to the training. That will probably be left until tomorrow, but he is close.'
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Hughton also confirmed Mark Bunn will return in place of Declan Rudd, but the Norwich boss admitted he has some nice selection posers after making eight changes to his starting line-up for the 3-0 FA Cup romp at London Road.
'No, it will be back to Mark Bunn. Declan came in and did a very good job and fortunately for us the performance meant he wasn't tested very much. For a young lad it was about his concentration levels,' he said. 'All those lads who started will be in the squad. Do any entertain any thoughts in my mind to start? Yes, they do, and that is what you want, but we also have a fairly settled team who had been playing well enough. Yes I know we are on the back of some poor results, but the margins are small.'
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Left-back Javier Garrido is also in the frame for Newcastle's Premier League visit after being rested for Norwich's last two matches.
'At West Ham that was very much a tactical decision,' said Hughton. 'More so on the fact that we had no Bradley Johnson, who from a height perspective on set plays has been very important for us, and also no Holty or Steve Morison. I felt we needed to play a bigger player in the team, consequently why we went for Ryan Bennett, but for Peterborough he was rested. Javi is available and fully fit.'