City boss Glenn Roeder today all but said his farewells to on-loan Celtic star John Kennedy – and admitted that there were still one or two “issues” to be resolved before Elliot Omosuzi was signed, sealed and delivered for the second-half of the season.
Carried off in the final minute of last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Reading, the fear was that Kennedy had sustained further damage to the knee that has been four years in the repair.
Roeder could, at least, knock that fear on the head. Same knee, different injury. And for a player that has now spent four years trying to get his professional career back on the road again, his expected absence for “three to five weeks” will, hopefully, come as something of a huge relief.
“John's got a tear to his cartilage,” Roeder confirmed at Colney this morning.
“It's a completely new injury. It's in the same knee that he had the big operation on, so he's going back up to Celtic to see their club physios and the club doctor – and then they'll decide which surgeon they'll use.
“Depending on what exactly they find – how big the tear is – it'll probably be three to five weeks. So it won't be just a week or two – especially the history he's got with that knee. You won't take any chances rushing him back.”
Two to three weeks clearly then takes Kennedy into the January transfer window when he was due to return to Parkhead anyway.
With Gary Doherty and Omosuzi now all-but the only shows in town at centre-half, Roeder will have to think long and hard as to whether he would even ask if a half-fit Kennedy might return for a second spell in the New Year. The feeling was that that would be a risk too far. And given the perilous tightrope City currently walk, Roeder hasn't got that kind of room for manoeuvre.
“I'll need to see what the opinion is of the surgeon that does the operation,” said Roeder, speaking ahead of tomorrow's crunch game with Charlton Athletic.
“And most importantly, what Gordon Strachan's views will be. Whether he'll want to take the player back after loaning him here for half a season.
“And if he wants to let us have him – and he was fully fit – I'd decide. But we couldn't have him out injured for too long. Not with the squad so small.”
Which is why all eyes will now turn to Craven Cottage and the thoughts of Fulham boss Roy Hodgson as to whether he was going to exploit that seven-day window in Omosuzi's 'season-long' loan deal and haul him back to West London on January 1.
A conversation, revealed Roeder, has already been had. The outcome, however, remains far from certain.
“I've had a conversation with Fulham – and it was a private one,” said Roeder. “Let's just say that I put the phone down to Roy and I wasn't disappointed. What he said made sense.”
Which, you'd presume, would involve Omosuzi being hauled home only if disaster were to befall Hodgson's current options at right-back.
“It's not by the post – by any means,” said Roeder. “But it wasn't neagtive, by any means, either. There are a few things that need to happen between now and January 1 for him to be able to stay and I understand where Roy is coming from.
“He couldn't promise last week that he's definitely going to be able to stay because he doesn't know what's going to happen to his right-backs over the next couple of weeks. And there's another issue that needs to be sorted out first – but that's between Elliot and Fulham.”
Otherwise, the City chief reported that the 31-year-old Carl Cort had suffered no reaction to his first 30-minute outing in 12 months; signed on a pay-as-you-play deal until the end of the season, Roeder insists everyone is on a “win-win” – for as long as that much-troubled knee continues to play ball.
The one-time ?7 million strike signing will clearly not start tomorrow's game with the Addicks; a behind-closed-doors clash with Colchester United at Colney on Monday wll, however, see the one-time England Under-21 striker start a game as City continue to see just what remains in his locker.
“I know him well now and he's a fantastic person – and I like working with good human beings. And if we can get him match fit over the next month or so, get him anywhere near to where he was at his best he can only help us in the second-half of the season.”
Matty Pattison is expected to train again today after picking up a dead leg at the Madejski, while Antoine Sibierski is still sidelined with his foot injury. The 34-year-old Frenchman is now pencilled in for the Boxing Day trip to Crystal Palace. Or else the home clash with Nottingham Forest 48 hours later.