It was mixed news at Colney this morning as City boss Paul Lambert gave the media his injury bulletin ahead of tomorrow’s big Carrow Road clash with league leaders Charlton.
Monday night’s defeat at Stadium:MK saw Stephen Hughes, Michael Nelson and Adam Drury limp off. And Lambert admitted this morning that all three were doubts for the Addicks encounter.
But while Drury and Nelson have a chance, reading between the lines, Hughes looks a definite no-no as he struggles to recover from his achilles knock.
There was one piece of good news however, with the Canary chief revealing that Darel Russell could possibly feature after returning to training yesterday following a calf problem.
“Nelson’s struggling with his ankle at the minute. Hughes is doubtful as well. But we’re more hopeful about Drury,” Lambert said at his Colney press conference.
“Russell trained with us yesterday. Hopefully he has got a chance if he doesn’t have a reaction to training.
“He’s only played one game – the Johnstone’s Paint match against Brentford – so it would maybe be a bit of a risk.
“His fitness is certainly not up to speed yet but he can play the game. If he starts, we don’t know how long we’ll get out of him or how long his injury will last so it is a risk. But we’ve not got too many options at the minute.”
I think it would be fair to say that Lambert is in the midst of his first ‘injury crisis’ as City boss, with Owain Tudur Jones and Matt Gill also weeks away from a first-team return.
But the Scot wasn’t asking anyone to get the violins out. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the nature of the beast – even if City are being dealt a harsh hand at the moment.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game, it’s up to the lads to come in and stand up. Whatever team that goes out tomorrow will do the best that they can.”
One silver lining however is the emergence of City’s young guns and while there were probably too many on the pitch against the Dons, their performances are certainly pleasing Lambert, even if he did have a stark warning for anyone wanting to big them up too much.
“Korey Smith has been great,” he continued. “For someone of that age to come in and play League One football, a division with a lot of seasoned pros, has been terrific. And Tom Adeyemi is doing really fine.
“But really, some of them are not ready. As I’ve said before, you look at the back of the programme and you need an abacus to count how many lads are on there. And if the truth be known, a lot of them are not ready for it, nowhere near.”
Tomorrow’s visitors will, of course, prove a stern test for City’s injury-ravaged squad. But according to Lambert, the Norfolk club should still be favourites.
They are at home, and will have a big backing from the stands yet again. Charlton will certainly not get a minute’s peace, even if they will have the luxury of naming the same side for the eighth league match in succession.
“They are going to have to earn the right to play against us – we’ll be ready for it that’s for sure,” the City boss continued.
“I’m not going to say that Charlton are going to come here and have an easy afternoon. We’ve got to be on the front foot, we’re expected to win and that’s what we’ll try and do.
“Charlton have got lads who are fit to keep going week in and week out and it’s a great thing to have. But I’d rather be at this football club, trying to drag it up from where it is.
“But this club’s been knocked from pillar to post of late and it has taken time to adjust. Charlton have been a bit more stable, which helps.”
And on the future of Wes Hoolahan? Lambert was again adamant that he remained in his plans and has a chance of being involved.
“Yes he does, as everybody does. When you are at this football club, you’re ready to play when you’re called upon.”