Worthy counts the cost of defeat

CHRIS LAKEY Nigel Worthington will be counting heads at Colney as City prepare to shrug off the effects of Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Coventry.


Nigel Worthington will be counting heads at Colney this morning as City prepare to shrug off the effects of Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Coventry.

Darren Huckerby is rated extremely doubtful for tomorrow night's trip to Southend because of a groin injury, while Dickson Etuhu played with a bug that might need more than just the three days of rest between games.

Huckerby sustained his injury in training last week but cleared himself to play and, although he came out for the second half, he lasted just four minutes, while Etuhu admitted later he made a mistake in saying he could get through the 90 minutes - the midfielder managed just over an hour.

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“We'll assess them overnight and see what they are like,” said the City boss, who has named the same starting line-up for the first six Championship matches of the season.

“I would think Hucks must be extremely doubtful at this moment in time and hopefully Dickson will clear up over the next 48 hours.”

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The situation could become worse should X-rays reveal facial injuries for another couple of players - who Worthington refused to name - after a physical encounter at the Ricoh Arena.

“We have a couple of players who might need X-rays when we get back to Norwich for cheekbones which the referee failed to pick up, which we are disappointed with, but it's a man's game and we get on with it,” he said.

Asked who the players were, Worthington replied: “We'll keep them to ourselves.”

A win at Coventry could have taken City top of the table; instead they now drop to fifth in the logjam at the top and head for Southend having taken just one point from three away games - in which they have failed to score.

And should Worthington face the worst case scenario on the injury front it could ruthlessly expose the lack of depth in his squad.

Paul McVeigh and Ian Henderson came on for Saturday's stricken pair, but after the unused subs, Craig Fleming and Andy Hughes, plus new on-loan keeper Lee Camp, Worthington's choice is limited: Ryan Jarvis, Rossi Jarvis, Robert Eagle and Michael Spillane are the only realistic alternatives left.

While wrestling with his options, Worthington also has to avoid a repeat of Saturday's performance.

The synopsis was simple:

“We didn't pass the ball as well, and if you don't pass the ball as well as we have been doing they are going to limit the creating of chances,” he said. “So it was not up to the standards we have set in the first few weeks of this season and we need to get back to that.

“Hucks, to be fair to him, has played with a groin injury, he wanted to play, so we will have to try and get him right. Dickson has played feeling unwell. There are one or two bits and bobs, but the standard that we have set in the first six games just wasn't there today. We are not going to make excuses, it is that time of year when bits and bobs get picked up and the performance wasn't what it has been.”

While City had plenty of possession it was the final third and around the penalty area where it all went wrong, although the defending on all three Coventry goals was poor.

“The defending for the three goals was average, in pressing the ball and being tighter to the men.

“But it was a good learning curve - it gets our feet back on the floor.”

City's lack of away wins has distinct resonances of last season when there were just half a dozen successful trips, but Worthignton said it was not a matter of concern.

“No - the performance at Leeds was excellent - we got beat 1-0 by a penalty,” he said. “The performance at Derby was very, very good - got a point there. And beating Torquay in the cup - that was a good performance..”

City were backed by a vocal 2,500 I will treat today as a blip and try and get it back on the road on Tuesday night following in Coventry's swish arena - although there were 12,000 empty seats - and Worthington praised them for their efforts.

“They were magnificent as always,” he said. “I understand they had a tough time travelling to get here and their support for the players was absolutely phenomenal.

“I'm grateful for them, but sorry it's been such a long journey for not the best result.”

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