Darren Huckerby's pre-season groin trouble looks set to end his Dutch tour earlier than scheduled as the Canary favourite heads home for treatment.
The 31-year-old has to yet feature this summer after picking up a slight groin strain.
City boss Peter Grant has long made it clear that he will do nothing to risk Norwich's star turn aggravating it further on the eve of the new Championship season and he duly sat out yesterday's 2-0 win over AGOVV Apeldoorn.
It now appears as if Huckerby will miss Wednesday's clash with FC Zwolle as Grant and his medical team look to get to the root of the problem ahead of August 11 and the start of the real thing.
“Darren's got this slight strain and maybe I need to send him home,” admitted Grant, with Frenchman Julien Brellier also sitting out yesterday's comfortable work-out.
“It's not getting any better and maybe I need to get that checked out. But I'm not going to push it. He feels OK at times and then at other times he doesn't feel so great. And today after training he was still feeling a bit sore so I feel as if it might be better that he goes home and gets it looked at. So we'll contemplate that tonight (Saturday) and maybe send him home tomorrow.”
Brellier is still carrying the war wound he picked up in the friendly clash with King's Lynn. “Julien's similar. He's got a slight strain in his thigh and I think that's just down to tiredness. He's been a little bit behind – not in terms of training because he'd been training back home because there'd been a few clubs interested in him, but in the terms and the type of training that we've been doing.”
He, however, still has a chance for the Zwolle game. “We'll see how he is Wednesday – but we can't take a chance,” said Grant.
Yesterday's game saw the Canaries go into battle with a 3-5-2 formation – a three-man back line that saw Dion Dublin holding fort down the middle with Gary Doherty to his right, Jason Shackell to his left. In the sense that new keeper David Marshall barely touched the ball, it worked defensively.
Going forward and had David Strihavka not seen the ball just run away from him when one-one-one with the keeper – or, indeed, had the latter's reactions not been quite as sharp as Jimmy Smith arrived perfectly on cue to meet a Chris Martin pull-back – then the game would have long been over, well before those two late strikes from Chris Brown and Jamie Cureton.
“I was very pleased – we'd tried something different; something that we'd worked on just this morning, really,” said Grant, as he ran his post-match rule over that 3-5-2 look.
“I was very pleased once we got to grips with it and understood it. I thought we could have been three-to-four up by half-time, to be honest with you.
“And Marshall's had probably as quiet a day as he's going to have. And as a back three you've got to be pleased with them. I thought there was a lot of good football; we just weren't quite clinical enough at times.”
It needed Cureton's second-half arrival to cure that little problem; alongside both Brown and the fit-again Luke Chadwick, he gave City a greater degree of zip and uregncy. That and the fact that their Dutch hosts began to suffer fitness-wise.
“He's always had that throughout his career and he lives on that,” said Grant, buoyed by Cureton's third strike in four days as he reacted first to the rebound after Doherty's header fell back off the bar.
“If you see, he was the only one that was on the move, really, when the ball's come back off the bar. But that's typical Jamie Cureton.
“When we bought him – that's what we knew we'd have. We'd have a predator. We'd lost Robert (Earnshaw) who was similar obviously, but we're very, very pleased with him. And that's his kind of goal – he's that alert type. Plus he's experienced now and he knows that he's got to be on the move all the time and that's how you get your just rewards.”
New-boy Smith also got the manager's thumbs up as he busied himself in a fairly crowded midfield. “I thought he did excellently – I thought he made some terrific runs; I thought he got forward very well and very unlucky not to score.”
In fairness to the Chelsea 20-year-old, it was a classic predatory run from midfield – timed perfectly to hit the edge of the Apeldoorn box as Martin made it to the far by-line and looked up for an option. And there he was.
“I think for a young man he's got a great intelligence as to where the ball is going to be. Plus we'd changed it a bit today and Jimmy bought into it right away and as a young man that's the great thing about him – he's got a great football awareness and I thought he showed that today.”
myfootballwriter's pre-season tour is sponsored by aggbag.co.uk