Injured City full-back Jon Otsemobor has set his sights on a return against Doncaster Rovers after confounding the physios with the speed of his recovery.
This afternoon, however, and the popular 25-year-old defender was joining in the league-wide 'Kick It Out!' anti-racism campaign at the club's Carrow Park facility and insisting that he was ahead of schedule ankle-wise; that rumours of his lengthy absence once everyone watched him be stretchered off against Derby County had been greatly exaggerated.
“I tried to get back up and asked the physio if I could have five more minutes,” said Otsemobor, speaking this afternoon as he looked back at that latest injury moment to knock Glenn Roeder's best-laid plans.
“I'd hurt it in the first-half and it was a similar type of pain,” he added, having been floored away on the far side in the midst of one of his trademark forward runs.
“But once I started to put my weight on it, I knew I wasn't going to carry on.”
As for a timetable thereafter, opinion it seems was divided.
“The physios actually thought it was a lot worse than it was – I was a bit more optimistic. I thought it wasn't really that bad – and I was right!”
The fact that the international break then descended and the Championship shut up shop for a fortnight also helped his cause.
“Yes – it came at a perfect time because obviously I haven't missed as many games and it gives me the opportunity to rest and do my rehab.”
So, how is it? “It's coming on,” he added. “I've been doing a lot of balance work, etc… And, hopefully, I'll be running towards the end of this week.”
Which would leave with a sneak of a shout for the home clash with Wolves on the Tuesday night; in more likelihood, it'll be Rovers on the Saturday.
“I'd like to think so – I'd like to think that Saturday was a chance. But I think it'll be pushing it a bit too much. If I can get it right towards the end of the week, hopefully, I can get a full week's training in next week then I think Doncaster will be more of a realistic shout.”
A powerhouse in the gym, the one-time Liverpool starlets natural level of fitness appears to be riding to his and Norwich's rescue as the Canaries head for a frantic – not to say, crucial – spell of five games in little over a fortnight kicking off with this weekend's trip to Bristol City.
That has, he admitted, come just a bit too soon for his tussle with Elliot Omosuzi for the right-back gig to begin in earnest again. Which isn't ideal. For with Dejan Stefanovic still suspended City boss Glenn Roeder and Jonathan Grounds back on Teesside, City boss Glenn Roder will need Omosuzi to be in two places at once – if John Kennedy fails to shrug off his own ankle injury in time for the trip to Ashton Gate.
“I think, realistically, Saturday's a bit too soon for me. But, like I say, I'm looking to be running by the end of the week and, hopefully, be back in full training by next week.”
By when the Canaries really do need to be picking up points and put another autumn lodged firmly in the Championship's bottom six behind them. They have smelt the fresh, clean air of the top half of the table just once so far this season. Given that the play-offs are still a mere five points distant, it doesn't take much to get to 12th or above.
Which, in part, starts to explain the current bout of frustration. City shouldn't be 21st; shouldn't be losing at home to ten men. Twice.
“It is disappointing – everybody wants to be in a better position no matter where you are in the table,” said Otsemobor. “And I think some of the games – especially the home games – have been disappointing for us where we should have won games, etc, etc…
“But it's a long season and as long as we don't get into the rut where we were last season – get a few wins together and you never know what can happen.”
Falling back into that bottom-three rut can be all-too easy. But, says Otsemobor, Norwich are that much better equipped character-wise this season to avoid that fate.
“With the lads that we've got now, there's a different character around the place and, personally, I don't think we will fall into that rut again. Last season there was a lack of confidence – especially when things weren't going well. But I definitely don't think that's the case this season.”
As and when Otsemobor does step back up to the plate, it will be intriguing to see which way the Roeder wind blows if Omosuzi isn't assigned centre-half duties. The City boss has already claimed that the on-loan Fulham teenager and his Chelsea and England Under-19 pal Ryan Bertrand on the opposing flank are the best full-back pairing in this division – a gauntlet that Otsemobor is only too happy to pick up.
Was he actually enjoying having Omosuzi for company this season after being that one-man right-back department last year?
“Most definitely,” he said. “As I've said before, last season sometimes there was a bit of a surreal feeling for me with their not being an out-and-out right-back.
“But now with Elliot's arrival it's made it a lot more challenging for me – and I think you'll get the best out of both of us.”
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