City star Darren Huckerby this mornoing emerged as the No1 doubt ahead of tomorrow night's trip to Watford with a groin strain that could yet rule him out of the weekend trip to the Ricoh Arena as well.
Nine times out of ten and City boss Glenn Roeder would leave everyone guessing as to just who was on his casualty list – in particular, Hornets' boss Aidy Boothroyd.
But mindful of all the supporter politics that invariably follows Huckerby's every thought and deed, so Roeder was at pains to set the record straight at Colney from the start – that if the 32-year-old isn't on the bus to Vicarage Road tomorrow it is because he has a groin strain.
“I could keep this under my hat, but I would rather do this for our supporters,” said Roeder, quizzed as to whether he had any fresh injury worries after Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Blackpool in which skipper Mark Fotheringham disappeared early with a gashed head.
“But Darren Huckerby is a massive doubt with a groin injury that he said he sustained early in the game.
“So rather than our supporters see that he's not starting – or not even on the bench – tomorrow night, it's because he's injured.”
The Canary talisman has already been troubled with a hip-type problem this season – something that required an injection early this year to ease. This latest injury appeared unrelated – albeit if it was in the same neck of the woods.
“It's in the same area,” confirmed the Canary boss. “But it's not specifically his hip, it's his groin. It's in the same area of his body, but he's a huge doubt as to whether he's even fit enough for the weekend. So that tells its own story about tomorrow night.”
Which if you read between those lines, suggests that Roeder will have at least one hole to fill away on the left-hand side of midfield; something that could either find Matty Pattison stepping back into that role ahead of Ryan Bertrand or else Mo Camara returning at left-back with the on-loan Chelsea youngster then taking 20-odd paces forward to fill the Huckerby beat.
As for Fotheringham, he appeared to be far less of a concern after his return from that one-match ban lasted less than 45 minutes.
“He was fine yesterday,” said Roeder. “The bang on the head didn't seem to do him any harm. The physio asked him to do a few laps – and the strange thing is he did it running backwards…”
Darel Russell remains suspended for tomorrow's trip. Whether City suffered without him at the weekend was a moot point, as far as Roeder was concerned.
“We've won one and we've lost one,” he said, after the Canaries dug out that 1-0 win over Barnsley without Russell's services.
“He's as important to me as all the other players. I wouldn't single him out for special praise. Like I wouldn't particularly single any of the others out. He's an important member of the squad that's done well. He's missed two games and we've won a game and we've lost a game.
“Hopefully, it be two wins and a defeat by the time that he's available for selection again.”
Given that Roeder is the first to admit that Watford will bring a lot of power and strength to the table tomorrow night, Russell's athleticism in the centre of the park might be missed more keenly against the Hornets than most. That said, there was more than one way to skin a cat.
And in the unlikely event that the Canaries add three inches in height and half-a-stone in muscle overnight, pound-for-pound Watford will go into tomorrow's contest with a distinct weight advantage.
“The game is not totally based on if you're strong and you're quick, you're guaranteed every football match. There's lost of other ways, thankfully, of winning a game of football,” said Roeder, as he ponders how many of his Premiership loan starlets to throw into battle against Boothroyd's Championship promotion machine.
“They play to their strengths and they're strengths are strength and pace – and within that mix there are some players that are very talented. You can't get away from the fact that they do have some talented players in their squad,” added the City boss, quietly pleased that after this weekend's (non)events his team was facing a big, top-of-the-table challenge. The sort of game that can concentrate the mind.
“But after Saturday, I'd rather be going to one of the top three sides,” he said. “Rather than going to a team that's mid-table or the bottom part of the Championship because I think this will give us a big lift going to Watford.
“They're top of the league and you always want to match your ability against a side that's looking like winning automatic promotion to the Premiership.”