Problems mount for Canaries

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City's week lurched from bad to worse, with a rare Carrow Road defeat followed by news of major selection problems ahead of another busy week.


Norwich City's week lurched from bad to worse, with a rare Carrow Road defeat followed by news of major selection problems ahead of another busy week.

If losing points to yet another injury-time goal wasn't bad enough, City also have to deal with the absence of skipper Adam Drury - and the lack of any suitable back-up for tomorrow's tricky Carling Cup trip to Rotherham.

Drury missed Saturday's defeat by Crystal Palace with an ankle injury and is definitely out of the trip to Yorkshire - and loanee Pat Boyle, who stepped into the breach at the weekend, is ineligible as part of the deal with his parent club, Everton.

It leaves Worthington short of any sort of cover at all at left back and, unless he can get someone in, forces a defensive reshuffle which, on current form which has seen just one point taken from the last three games, is the last thing the team needs.

To add to tomorrow's selection woes, on-loan keeper Lee Camp is also ineligible - leaving 17-year-old Steve Arnold as the only deputy to Paul Gallacher on the books.

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“We'll have a keeper,” said Worthington, although when asked if it would be Arnold, replied: “Possibly.”

The situation with Drury is more complicated.

“He won't be fit for Tuesday and could be extremely doubtful for Saturday (at Plymouth),” said Worthington. “But we will get plenty of work done on it and see where he's at.”

Father-to-be Drury could miss matches when his wife gives birth, depending on the timing, but Worthington's problems down the left side have been exacerbated by the absence of Darren Huckerby, who is likely to be out for another fortnight with a groin injury.

City missed Huckerby against Palace, whose keeper was hardly tested until it was too late.

“Paul McVeigh has come in the last few days and worked hard and done well for us, but you are always going to miss a player like Darren anyway because he has got great pace and directness in his play, so you are going to miss that, you are not going to argue with that one,” said Worthington. “But injuries happen and you have to readjust as best you can with the group that you've got.”

Palace's victory could hardly have hurt more for City fans - former Ipswich man Shefki Kuqi grabbed the winner deep into injury time just four days after points were thrown away at Southend when a 3-1 lead was wiped out by a similar late, late goal.

“The game is there, whether it is 90 minutes, 93, 94, 95, the game is there until the final whistle blows,” said Worthington. “I'm disappointed for the lads from Tuesday night because they worked hard - 3-1 up and they finish up with a point for all their hard work. Again, we worked hard today, there were a lot of positives from it and they get nothing for all their efforts. But that's the game, you stand up, you fight and get on with it.”

The positives, he said, were: “The work rate, the passing, sticking at it, the belief - they are all positives.”

It doesn't hide the fact, though, that having started the season in style, with one defeat in five games, and an unlucky one at that, City have hit a wall and slipped to 10th in the table.

“I think it had possibly 0-0 written all over it,” said Worthington. “It was a close, tight-knit game and Palace got the rub of the green.

“I don't think there was a lot in it. There were a couple of half chances in the first half, my keeper's has had two or three saves to make in the second half. First half, I thought our tempo was good, the quality was good. Second half I thought the tempo dropped a little bit, which suited Palace.

“But it's a game of football, you take what you can get while you can get it and get on with it.

“Gallacher's had to make two or three saves in the second half, which we could have done without. Their keeper has spilled one right at the death - it would have been nice to get something from the game but you don't always get what you deserve.”

If there was to be a bright note it was the form of 19-year-old Boyle, playing his first senior game as a professional.

“He flew down Wednesday night, was in training Thursday, wasn't playing until he got a call this morning about 10am and he can be very satisfied with his debut,” added Worthington.