City boss Glenn Roeder was today making plans for life without John Kennedy for at least the next “three to four weeks” as the 25-year-old headed north to Yorkshire today for further scans on his damaged right ankle.
An X-ray in Norfolk yesterday revealed no bone damage after the luckless Celtic star hobbled out of Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat by Queen's Park Rangers – and all under the watching gaze of visiting Scotland boss George Burley.
But with Kennedy's ankle still swollen “like a balloon”, so it was clear that he now faces a spell on the sidelines. And with Roeder having already lost his anchor midfield man Sammy Clingan to a month-long shoulder injury, so Fortune is – as ever – doing the Carrow Road club few favours on the injury front.
“He's certainly struggling for tomorrow – and he might be struggling for a few weeks,” was Roeder's instant verdict at Colney this morning, with the 'Kennedy question' the first on everyone's agenda.
Given the player's wretched misfortune on the injury front – he is, after all, only now just returning to his 20-year-old heights after four years fighting his way back from a career-threatening knee injury – it is the last thing either he or the Canaries needed ahead of tomorrow's visit of James Beattie, Billy Sharp and friends.
Coming on the back of the mid-week defeat to ten-man Rangers, this weekend's home clash with an equally awkward-looking Sheffield United side was one of those where Roeder would have liked all hands on deck. Instead it looks as if on-loan Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Grounds will make his first start alongside Dejan Stefanovic.
In the meantime, Kennedy is off up the A1 to see the specialists in Yorkshire as Roeder keeps Bhoys chief Gordon Strachan firmly in the loop.
“He's being driven this morning to see a specialist in Yorkshire. Our physio's taken him up there as we speak; he had an X-ray yesterday to make sure he had no bone damage – which he hasn't.
“But he's obviously got some ligament damage because the ankle is up like a balloon. Lots of swelling. So we hope it's no more than ligament damage; that we find out nothing sinister when it's scanned this morning.”
Calls were in to Parkhead; given that on current form, Strachan would have been looking forward to slamming a fully-recovered Kennedy back into his plans come the New Year and events of the last 48-hours will have gone down equally badly in one half of Glasgow.
“At the end of the day, it's his player,” said Roeder, dearly wishing that Kennedy was his.
“It's a blow – it's a big blow,” the City chief admitted. “You always have to find a silver lining to every dark cloud, so it is a big opportunity for somebody else.
“As a manager I can't legislate for injuries; unfortunately, they're out of my hands. But you're always looking for a positive out of a negative situation. And the positive is that someone will get a chance tomorrow that wouldn't have had John had been fit.
“Because I think he – along with Sammy Clingan – has probably been our most consistent player this season. He was just getting better and better.”
He was certainly all set to walk the 'Man of the Match' award against Rangers on Wednesday night. One blip apart just before the interval, he had barely put a head or a foot out of place all evening. It just sums up City's fortune when both Kennedy and Clingan are now sat on a treatment table – just when the Canaries needed to kick-start their season into life before they get too entrenched in the mucky stuff again.
In his absence, Roeder appears all set to carry on as he finished off – with Grounds in at centre-half. Though that would leave City with two left-footed centre-halves, it appears that his greater Premiership experience at the Riverside gives him the nod ahead of Spurs reserve skipper Troy Archibald-Henville who Roeder ruled still “too raw” for such a big game as the Blades.
The other alternative would be to switch Elliot Omosuzi inside and pave the way for Jon Otsemobor's return at right-back. Again, every finger pointed to Grounds being the man in possession come three o'clock tomorrow.
“Again looking for positives out of the performance the other night and Jonathan Grounds came on and I thought he caught everyone's imagination in how well he played.
“So I wouldn't have any concerns or worries about playing Jonathan Grounds; he's got Premiership experience; he's played this year for Middlesbrough – admittedly it wasn't against a Premiership club; it was against Yeovil – but he did very well.
“We've bedded him in now; he's been here a couple of weeks. We know him; he knows us. And he came on and did exceptionally well. So he looks an excellent young prospect.”
Archibald-Henville will, it seems, have to wait his turn.
“Troy is probably just a little too inexperienced at the moment. He's improved since he's been here, but I feel he is just a little raw at the moment. It's such an important game and I have to make a change at central defence and I have to have more experience.”
Roeder had one other piece of unhelpful injury news – that David Bell's debut was on hold for at least another couple of weeks after suffering a slight set-back in his recovery from that summer ankle injury.
At one stage the ?600,000 capture from Luton Town was pencilled in for a first Canary appearance against Plymouth last weekend; that timetable has now shifted again.
“If all things go well for him from Monday onwards, I would have said a couple of weeks,” said Roeder.
“We've had him out training – and everything was going perfect. He was impressing in training. He's technically gifted and my sort of player.
“But he's had a little set-back last week with the ankle injury. He can do everything but point his toe and strike the ball as hard as he would want to in a shooting situation.
“It was just catching at the back; he was just getting irritation. So he just had a steroid injection around the area of irritation which meant that we had to take him out of training for a week now. But he comes back to train on Monday and, hopefully, it's full steam ahead again.”