Worthy: I'm not gambling with fitness

CHRIS LAKEY Nigel Worthington insists he was not gambling with his star player's fitness when he sent Darren Huckerby out at Coventry on Saturday.


Nigel Worthington insists he was not gambling with his star player's fitness when he sent Darren Huckerby out at Coventry on Saturday.

Huckerby aggravated a groin injury at the Ricoh Arena which has ruled him out for up to a month, but Worthington insisted yesterday that there had been no element of risk involved in playing the 30-year-old wide man.

“He was very confident and he was desperate to play and we chatted about it and we all decided we'd give it a go - but unfortunately it hasn't worked,” said the City boss, who now faces his first line-up change of the season for tonight's game at Southend.

“You want to get you best players out there, the player wants to play, he is confident about the situation and at the end of the day you pretty much go with the player.

“If he said he's as near as dammit right he feels good or he said 'look, I'm struggling with this', then you make the decision. But when the player said he's feeling pretty good, confident, then you go with it. Sometimes you get through, sometimes you don't. In this case it hasn't worked.

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“I'd certainly rather he missed one game or two games than three or four, but the situation is there where you want to get your best players on the pitch, the player wants to play so you are doing what you think is the right thing at the right time, end of story.”

Huckerby had been carrying the injury, without any noticeable ill effect, for “a few weeks”, but could now miss as many as four matches - his longest run out of the side since moving to Carrow Road three years ago. Since making his City debut on loan from Manchester City in September, 2003, Huckerby has made 117 starts - only Adam Drury, with 118, has a better appearance record for City.

To add to the problems, Worthington has had to contend with a bug that has done the rounds at the Colney training centre and clearly affected Dickson Etuhu at Coventry, the powerful midfielder having to leave the pitch with just over an hour gone.

Etuhu was due to train yesterday and be assessed later, but appears to be the only one of the first team starting line-up currently affected. Club skipper Craig Fleming and youngster Andrew Fisk have it, while Lee Croft and teenager Matthew Halliday have both shrugged it off.

“It is part and parcel, it's life, not just in the club it is people outside the club as well,” said Worthington. “We just have to get through it as best we can. If there are people miss games through it then people coming in have to go and pick up the bits from there, simple as that.”

It means teenage defender Michael Spillane and possibly another Academy product could be on the bench at Southend tonight - but if there was any good news coming out of Colney yesterday it was that Carl Robinson and Jason Shackell will play, despite picking up head injuries at Coventry on Saturday.

“Carl Robinson, who was medically looked at yesterday morning, didn't have a X-ray but after examination is pretty sore but okay,” said Worthington.

“Jason, who did have an X-ray, is very, very sore but, thankfully there is no damage to the bones.”