City goalkeeping coach Jim Hollman will make a wholly unscheduled outing for Norwich City reserves tonight after boss Glenn Roeder confirmed this lunchtime that David Marshall's No2 Matthew Gilks faces up to 11 weeks on the sidelines after sustaining an ankle ligament injury in training.
Gilks turned over on his ankle last Thursday and subsequent scans have revealed an injury similar to that sustained by Marshall himself in that FA Cup away trip to Chelsea.
Roeder put Gilks' recovery time at between “ten to 11 weeks” – a wretched injury blow for all concerned given that the new Canary boss is already all but resigned to not seeing Adam Drury again for months on end after his knee injury.
While Drury's absence can be covered by either Simon Lappin or a fresh loan face, Gilks' absence is far more of a problem as Roeder begins to plan for a hectic schedule of games.
In theory, he could just issue a swift recall for England Under-21 keeper Joe Lewis – currently out on loan at Morecombe.
In practice, however, he has discovered that the previous regime agreed to a window-to-window loan deal for the six-foot five-inch prospect and Lewis is not eligible to return to Norfolk until January 1.
All of which leaves Roeder with just Steven Arnold as a back-up keeper to Marshall.
And in his need to wrap the Academy youngster up in cotton wool, so he has little alternative but to hand Hollman the gloves for tonight's game against Northampton Town Reserves at Carrow Road.
One option was to hand England Under-16 keeper Jed Steer his reserve team debut. The rising prospect made his Academy Under-18 debut at Colney this weekend in the 3-2 home defeat by Portsmouth Under-18s and, indeed, walked away with the man of the match honours.
Schoolboy Steer was in Martin's thoughts after losing fellow England Youth international Declan Rudd to medial knee ligament damage until at least January; tonight's reserve game was, however, deemed a leap too far for the youngster of whom much is already expected.
As for what Roeder plans to do keeper-wise between now and January 1, the new City boss either has to place his faith in young Arnold – or else return to the transfer market for a short-term deal to cover for Lewis' absence.
While he would be unwilling to lose another of his five, prized loan slots to a substitute keeper, one way forward might be to pick up a cover No1 on a free agent basis.
Either way it is one headache that Roeder could well have done without ahead of such a crucial spell of games.
In the meantime, the club this morning announced that it would mark the passing of Canary legend Graham Paddon with a minute's round of applause before this weekend's clash with Coventry City – for whom Paddon also played.
The 57-year-old midfielder, who died suddenly at his Norfolk home, will always be remembered for his stunning hat-trick in the 3-0 League Cup quarter-final against Arsenal at Highbury in 1972 as Ron Saunders' promotion-winning side arguably hit the peak of their playing powers.
Midfield partner and former City No2 Doug Livermore was among those who paid tribute to Paddon today.
“Graham was an excellent player,” Livermore told the club's official website.
“He was a major influence in the promotion side of 1971-72 under Ron Saunders and we always kept in touch since we met as players at Norwich 36 years ago.
“He was a great man and a good friend and will be sorely missed by all thos ewho knew him.”
Ex-Canary manager Dave Stringer added: “He was a terrific player for Norwich City and was a member of the eam that won promotion to the First Division for the first time.
“He was very much an integral part of that team and his contribution to us going up can't be underestimated.”
Paddon played 340 games for the Norfolk club in two spells, scoring 37 goals. He leaves a partner, Sandra, and three children Guy, Jenny and Heather.
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