Shackell expected to be fit for tonight

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant will be forced to make changes to his line-up tonight, with new boys Simon Lappin and Mark Fotheringham both ineligible.


Peter Grant will be forced to make changes to his line-up tonight, with new boys Simon Lappin and Mark Fotheringham both ineligible.

The Scottish pair were signed after the first match, at Blackpool - and that means they can't appear in the replay.

However, Grant believes it gives other players the chance to stake their claims and create the competition which the new players' arrivals was intended to provoke.

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"It is an opportunity for someone else to come back in - that's the way I look at it," said Grant. "Every game is different, I am not one for saying I will pick a team for the next game. You have to concentrate on your first one. If you say yes they'll come back in and then you get an injury on the left or the right hand side of the pitch you have to swap bodies around.

"Or, God forbid, somebody gets suspended and you maybe have to manoeuvre the whole team around - but thankfully we have got a little bit more balance to the squad when the two boys are available."

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Lappin started the last game - the 2-1 Championship win over Leeds at Carrow Road 10 days ago - in the absence of suspended left back Adam Drury. The City skipper is available tonight and looks likely to make a return.

Midfielder Youssef Safri returned unscathed from international duty with Morocco last week, and had the bonus of extra time to get over his travelling time courtesy of the snow that fell at Luton last week.

"Saff is fine," said Grant. "Probably he was the only one delighted there was no game on Saturday because it gives him a little bit of a rest. He has trained well the last couple of days."

Grant also confirmed that central defender Jason Shackell will be available after a run of three weeks when niggling ankle and calf problems have interrupted his training.

Shackell played a full 90 minutes at home to Plymouth last month, despite reporting in hours earlier with an ankle problem. He returned for the home game against Wolves, but last only until half-time, and was ruled out of the home win over Leeds.

"Touch wood Shacks is fit," said Grant. "He trained yesterday, trained Saturday - he has probably had more training than most players this week."

Grant admits Shackell should not have played in the Wolves game, but says there were extenuating circumstances.

"I think he actually played the last game because he knew we'd be struggling for centre backs," said Grant. "If I had known that I wouldn't have played him, but I think that is his desperation to play. It is a great attitude to have, unfortunately after 40 minutes it backfired on us a little bit, but I can't fault his attitude in that respect."

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