Shackell blow adds to Grant’s list of concerns

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant's problems are beginning to mount after the Canaries' first home defeat of the season left them hovering above the Championship relegation zone.


Peter Grant's problems are beginning to mount after the Canaries' first home defeat of the season left them hovering above the Championship relegation zone.

A gift-wrapped 2-1 home defeat to Cardiff - their second league defeat in a row - was exacerbated by the news that Grant, who now has a two-week international break to try and fix the machine, is likely to be without skipper Jason Shackell for several weeks because of ankle ligament damage.

Grant kept his players locked inside the dressing room after the game before emerging for interviews clearly struggling to contain his anger at the way City had surrendered their domination of the game for an hour and then allowed Cardiff to launch a smash and grab raid for three points that even their own manager, Dave Jones, admitted they had no right to.

Simon Lappin put City ahead on 12 minutes and it was one-way traffic - until Jones' substitutions paid off with devastating effect, Peter Whittingham equalising soon after the hour mark from fellow sub Darcy Blake's cross and then providing the corner from which defender Roger Johnson headed the winner six minutes from time.

"I think I could probably write the headlines for you - a tale of two cities, because that's what it was," said Grant, whose team are now 20th in the table.

Most Read

"I thought the first half was as well as we have played. We were on the front foot, we were positive in the things we did, we played probably 95pc of the first half in their half of the field - and then we just invited them back into the game.

"If we had done the basics well we would have won the game comfortably, because Cardiff didn't need to work to get the three points.

"We played the ball square so many times, we played the ball back so many times and we stopped being positive for probably the last 30 minutes.

"We have to got to get that mentality to try and play Championship football at times. We try to be clever, try and just invite trouble on, playing square and back and Cardiff grew in confidence because we allowed them to grow in confidence. We started to get on the back foot because we changed the ball over too often by making the wrong choices. We won the game for Cardiff more than they won it themselves.

"We gave them it, we gave them the three points, it was down to our own play - inept at being able to assess the situation and how to win the game. And how to win the game sometimes takes basic Championship football and we just didn't do that in that period of the game."

Grant was furious at the defensive lapses which let Cardiff into the game.

Whittingham was at the back post to knock home a cross from the right which had been flicked on by the head of City defender Dion Dublin - one of three men marking Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink in the area.

The winner was from Whittingham's corner just in front of the Snake Pit, the ball finding the unmarked Johnson who headed home from eight yards.

"It is quite incredible because I am standing there for maybe 15, 20 seconds and I'm looking on the pitch thinking, '6ft 4ins, he's standing in the box' and I am thinking, 'surely somebody is going to pick him up'. And they stood - no, no, no. And then you get punished for it," said Grant. "It actually came from David Marshall's bad kick to Chris Brown - we have told him many times he is too far away, the ball is never going to reach him; they head the ball straight back and get a corner kick from it.

"It's simple things like that."

Grant was just as unhappy with the equaliser.

"They get a cross in the box, we have three guys in the middle of the box, they have got one guy, and they score," he said. "Things like that make it very, very disappointing, because it takes a lot out of the good things they had done in the first half, the positive things.

"Against good sides they are always in the game if you give them invitations and we kept giving them invitations.

"That was the one aspect of the game first half, we were pressing the ball high, we were winning the ball, we were playing forward, we were trying to create chances, we were getting crosses in the box. All the things that you look for, and we made it difficult for Cardiff in that period. To come away losing it the way we did is a massive disappointment."

Grant has a fortnight to put things right, although it is almost certain he will bring in a loan player to cover for Shackell, who suffered the injury in the midweek Carling Cup win at Rochdale. Shackell is now one of three players in the City treatment room because of ankle ligament damage, joining midfielders Jimmy Smith and Mark Fotheringham.

"We've had the scan and there's ligament damage," said Grant.

"So obviously it's fortunate we've not got a game for a couple of weeks so we will see if Jason is available at the end of that couple of weeks we will have to see. But it's a blow for us because he's been doing well. It's a blow as all we keep seeming to do at the moment is pick up injuries.

"And it's another ankle as well so we will assess him over the period and see how he is. Hopefully he won't be out for as long as Mark Fotheringham or Jimmy Smith.

"It's been a disappointing day and we just hope Jason will be available to us by the time we turn back round again."