Shackell still sidelined four months on

Jason Shackell is still waiting for the go-ahead to make his comeback - three-and-a-half months after injuring ankle ligaments.

Norwich City defender Jason Shackell is still waiting for the go-ahead to make his comeback - three-and-a-half months after injuring ankle ligaments.

The 22-year-old centre-half was expected to return in Monday night's reserve clash against Tottenham's second string after being an unused substitute in the Canaries' previous two first team games.

But he failed to make the squad and manager Nigel Worthington revealed yesterday that the club had decided to play safe and seek expert medical advice before throwing the player back into action.

“Jason has gone to see a specialist about his ankle to see where he is at,” he said. “Hopefully he will be given the all-clear to push on but we might be told we have to be careful.

“We were short on bodies for our last two games so that was why he was on the bench. He hasn't had a setback or anything like that - it's just a question of making sure he is right.”

Shackell was a first team regular at the start of the season, playing eight straight games alongside Craig Fleming before being replaced by on-loan Calum Davenport in the East Anglian derby at Ipswich on September 18. A little over two weeks later he suffered another big setback when he fell awkwardly in a reserve fixture against Watford - and he has been on the sidelines ever since, even though he did watch the games against West Ham and Plymouth from the bench.

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His continued absence leaves Worthington a little short at the back, with Simon Charlton providing the only experienced back-up at present should either Fleming or Gary Doherty pick up an injury.

The City boss should have plenty of options available in midfield for Saturday's big Carrow Road clash against the Hornets, with Jason Jarrett having shrugged off the knock he picked up at Plymouth on Saturday and Andy Hughes having topped up his match fitness in the reserves on Monday.

The Norwich captain, wearing a mask to protect the cheekbone he fractured last month, followed up a first team substitutes' run-out at the weekend by playing for 45 minutes in defence against an experienced Spurs side, who went on to claim an emphatic 5-0 victory.

“We played Andy at right back to give him as much work as possible and he came through with no problems,” said Worthington. “All being well he will be available for selection against Watford.

“Jason is also fine - he has been training with us as normal.”

The one big injury doubt for Saturday remains striker Dean Ashton, who was substituted towards the end of the 1-1 draw at Home Park after picking up a slight hamstring strain.

“Dean hasn't been involved since the weekend so it's a case of wait and see on that one,” he said.