Shackell wants to avoid knee surgery

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City will try and get defender Jason Shackell through to the end of the season without the need for surgery on his troublesome knee injury.


Norwich City will try and get defender Jason Shackell through to the end of the season without the need for surgery on his troublesome knee injury.

The 22-year-old injured his knee in a reserve game against Watford in October, and his recovery has been hit by illness and further complications.

But while a 75-minute run-out for the reserves at Coventry on Tuesday may well have signalled his imminent return to the first team squad, the Academy product is still not on the all-clear list.

“At the moment the decision is he won't have any surgery and he will leave it,” said City physio Neal Reynolds. “Obviously if he breaks down we will have to go down that line. We are hoping we can get through till the end of the season, which is the aim, without having any surgery and then we might do something in the off-season just to clean it up a bit.”

Reynolds said Shackell's long absence was not surprising given the injury.

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“People expect him to be back really quickly, but the type of injury he had takes a good three or four months to recover from,” he said. “Some people still have problems after that. Yes, it has been a long time, but with the type of injury he had, it gives a little bit of instability around the ankle. He probably does have other little things going on with it at the same time.”

It has been an absence which has frustrated not just the player but also supporters, concerned that City would have little cover should either of the regular central defenders, Craig Fleming or Gary Doherty, be sidelined.

“I think a lot has been made out in terms of time - I don't think sometimes people understand how long injuries take,” said Reynolds.

“All I ever hear is, 'oh, he's been out three or four months'. It's not actually that long for his type of injury. He was ill, unfortunately, when he was going to make his comeback in December. He then ended up having another problem, then last week, before the Plymouth game, I looked at him, nothing major, but him and I had a chat and decided we would see consultant I know to get a second opinion on his ankle.

“Yes, Jason is frustrated, he's been training since probably the mid to the end of December and obviously has not played a game. Everybody judges it on when he plays a game, but he's been back about four weeks. He has just had things happen in the meantime.

“He knows the situation - he had a serious injury.

“At the end of the day the player's health is paramount. Jason knows that and knows I'd rather his ankle was spot on and as good as we can get it. He's only young and therefore we are not going to rush him. We are hoping he will get through to the summer without any major problems, but there is no guarantee on that.”

There is also light at the end of the tunnel for luckless striker Leon McKenzie as he recovers from the second major ankle injury of his season.

The 27-year-old looks set to return to training in the next couple of weeks - a lift for City in the week that leading scorer Dean Ashton departed for the Premiership.

McKenzie has been sidelined for most of the season, his initial problems coming at the end of August when he suffered a ligament injury in training. After four months out he returned for the home win over Southampton, coming on for the last 16 minutes.

His next two appearances came as a sub - but he failed to last the distance in the 2-1 home win over Burnley three days after Christmas after suffering another ankle ligament in jury and hasn't played since.

And while the new injury was neither as serious, nor related to the same problem as before, McKenzie has still had to endure another spell of frustrating rehabilitation.

But, according to Reynolds, McKenzie can once again start thinking about playing football again.

“He's doing alright,” said Reynolds. “He's on his way back. He's been out with his injury for about three and a half weeks, and injuries like this tend to take between four and six weeks, so he's on schedule.

“He's started to do some running work and it's not too bad now. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, he'll be back in training.

“It was a slightly different injury and I think he would have injured it anyway, whether or not he'd suffered the other one.”

Left back Adam Drury, who missed the game against Watford at the weekend after picking up a knee injury in training, looks certain to be fit in time for the tough trip to Reading n ext Tuesday.

“He picked up an injury Friday morning and it was quite painful at the time in his knee, but it seems to have settled down quite quickly,” said Reynolds. “He saw a specialist yesterday. He, like myself, isn't very worried about it and hopefully it will settle down quite quickly.”