City boss Peter Grant this morning officially confirmed his interest in Rangers utility man Ian Murray – no surprise given that he now has both Simon Lappin and Julien Brellier among the injury doubtfuls for Saturday's trip to Hull City.
Brellier is still struggling with the general tightness he has picked up while playing catch-up fitness-wise; Lappin has picked up a slight thigh strain. Neither have trained this week.
Add that to Mark Fotheringham's lengthy absence with a Jimmy Smith-like ankle ligament injury and it is little wonder that Grant has joined the queue for Murray's services as Gers' boss Walter Smith reshapes his squad ahead of next week's transfer window slamming shut.
“Murray's a good player,” said Grant, at this morning's Press conference at Colney.
The 26-year-old first came to everyone's attention when he was at Hibs; a switch to Glasgow would follow in the summer of 2005 – as would four, full Scottish international caps.
An early illness limited his Gers appearances to just 18 games last season; that and – you suspect – the classic frustration of all jack-of-all-trades, not being given the chance to nail down the art of being master of one.
“I've seen him a lot when he was at Hibs as a boy where he was captain when he was very, very young.
“But he's got all the attributes that you look for in a player – a top class professional; left-sided; can play left-back, left midfield, central midfield and centre-back. And he can do them all well.
“That's the difference – he's comfortable playing them all. And he's even played right-back for Rangers even though he's left-footed.
“I know his contract's up next year and we've spoken to Rangers about him. And he's one that I'd be interested in – there's no doubt about that.”
Smith told the Glasgow Evening Times yesterday that he would be prepared to listen to offers for some of his players after bringing in 11 new faces in a busy summer at Ibrox.
“It's just that we are covered more than adequately in some positions and not as much in others. We just want a slightly better balance to the squad,” said Smith.
“Having a slightly bigger group means we have to watch that we don't get frustration from those not playing. So, if some clubs come along for one or two of the boys then we will have to consider what they say.”
Grant duly confirmed that there had been definite contact as he looks to give his own squad even greater balance with another natural left-footer to add to the party – one that can bring both competition and cover for the likes of Adam Drury, Lappin and, indeed, Jason Shackell at centre-back.
“He's a good age – 25, 26. I think he layed 17, 18 games after he had bit of an illness at the start of last season; missed maybe the first two months of the season.
“And, as I say, came back in and played 17, 18 games last year. So he's one that I've always liked. The fact that he was captain of Hibs at a very young age shows you that he's got leadership qualities.
“He's a good height – six foot, six foot one. So I'm sure he could add something to us, so we've spoken to Rangers and we're just looking at that at this moment in time.”
What Grant will also be looking very, very closely at is the fitness of Messrs Lappin and Brellier.
“Lappin has got a thigh strain so we'll see how he is – we'll give him until the last moment,” revealed Grant.
“And, obviously, Julien. He's not trained since the game on Saturday, so we'll have a look at that,” added the Canary chief, all too aware that his first rash of injuries have – as ever – all come in the same department where Darel Russell remains almost the last man standing.
“We've not got the greatest of numbers in there – from having six midfield playesr, you could end up with two of them.
“But it just goes to show you that people think that you're bringing a lot of numbers in in certain areas of the field how quickly it changes.”
He has alternatives up his sleeve – Luke Chadwick finished the win over Southampton in centre-midfield; teenager Chris Martin shone there for the reserves on Tuesday night – albeit in that more forward role, dropped in the hole fo the front two.
For that, Grant may have to drop 4-4-2 and switch back to 4-3-3. Whether he has the fit bodies to do that will, in every likelihood depend on Lappin's thigh playing ball over the next 48 hours. Brellier, too, may yet come back into the reckoning given his need for game-time.
There is, of course, one other big question to be answered fitness-wise – how close Darren Huckerby is to a first-team appearance after his 55 minute run-out for the reserves on Tuesday night.
Close, but maybe not quite close enough appeared to be the manager's conclusion ahead of this weekend's trip to the KC Stadium. His star turn could yet continue his competitive rehab with part of the game next Tuesday night when Norwich travel to the Football League's bottom club and that second round Carling Cup clash with Rochdale.
“I think he's short of that – but needs are must at certain times,” said the City boss, the thought clearly crossing his mind.
“But we've seen that with Julien – you feel that you're great and sometimes adrenaline gets you through the first 45, 50 minutes.
“And that in the first game you're so excited at getting back – and then the soreness comes in after that. So we've got to be very, very careful that he doesn't pick up injuries elsewhere.”
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