Winning ways can heal the wounded

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant is confident each and every one of his walking wounded will be putting their hands up when he asks them one question: “Who's fit?”The City boss has little room to manoeuvre as far as numbers is concerned, but believes the manner of Friday's 2-1 victory at Hull means there will be no shortage of takers for a jersey this afternoon when promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to Carrow Road.

CHRIS LAKEY

By CHRIS LAKEY

Peter Grant is confident each and every one of his walking wounded will be putting their hands up this morning when he asks them one question: “Who's fit?”

The City boss has little room to manoeuvre as far as numbers is concerned, but believes the manner of Friday's 2-1 victory at Hull means there will be no shortage of takers for a jersey this afternoon when promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to Carrow Road.


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“You always have soreness, there are a few boys with ice on, but I think sometimes that gets masked because of the fact you have won the game,” said Grant after the KC Stadium success.

The players trained on Saturday morning and yesterday morning, with Grant expected to finalise his line-up this morning, after assessing Dion Dublin's reaction to his 90 minutes at Hull.

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“All the boys will want to play,” he said. “When you win a game you are all desperate to play and you don't feel any wee knocks.”

Grant has the option of swapping Dublin and Chris Martin, who came on as a late sub at Hull where the opportunity arose to rest his young legs.

“Dion is struggling but that's the problem we have with playing him 90 minutes. He's fantastic for us and I felt it was important, with the height Hull had, to keep him on the pitch in case there were any set plays.

“I tried to let him rest his legs by moving him back into midfield for 10 minutes just to give him a rest, then he felt his second wind and went back up front again.

“I always feel I like to rest Dion after games, he is such a big player for us. I sometimes like to ask him how he's feeling, but it came back to bite me when we played against Preston and I had to take him off after seven or eight minutes and I don't want that to happen again.

“We are fortunate now that the games are not coming as quick, we have got that little bit of a break - if it had been Saturday then Monday I would probably give you the answer as no, but as we have that extra day then maybe. The way the big man is feeling now he will be desperate to play.”

Martin will be the better for the rest - physically and mentally.

“I just felt the last couple of weeks, even though he has had an effect on the game, he was starting to tire a little bit,” Grant said.

“I wished he had missed his England call-up, not because I don't want him to play for England, I just felt it was a good time to get a rest and the boy never got that rest. He was away training and playing and mentally it has been tough for him and I think you could see that in the last couple of weeks' performances.

“He has an injured ankle as well, but I had to play him because I had no other players. At Hull I made the conscious decision after speaking to Jim (Duffy) and Martin (Hunter) that I was going to go with Dion and try something different, play with the three, and it worked for us.

“He respected the decision - he is a young man who will have a big effect at this club.”

Kris Renton, 16, is likely to be on the bench for the third game in a row, but otherwise Grant is likely to stick with pretty much the same workforce for the visit of West Brom, who, despite winning just once in their last seven games, will be looking to avenge a home loss to City back in November.

“We know we will have to play exceptionally well,” said Grant. “We know they have a threat with the likes of Jason Koumas, who is an outstanding player, similar to Huckerby, he can be a match winner on the day. They have (Diomansy) Kamara, also similar to Huckerby, who can be a match winner on the day.

“I think West Brom have been excellent. They play the game in the proper manner and try and pass the ball and they have very good players and in Tony Mowbray they have an excellent manager who will try and play the game in the right way.

“Tony went in there and had a difficult time for a few weeks because he was trying to get them playing the way he wanted them to play. I think he has turned that round now and he is getting results.

“It is a fantastic game and it is great to go back to our place. It will be a full house and we are looking forward to putting a performance on - and hopefully victory.”

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