City boss Paul Lambert has admitted that he is facing a major selection headache for tomorrow’s trip to Stockport, with the Canaries short of a recognised right-back.
Jon Otsemobor is still suffering with his hamstring complaint after a failed comeback at Leeds nearly two weeks ago.
And Michael Spillane – despite returning to training this week – has been absent, also with a hamstring injury, since the 5-1 win over Bristol Rovers.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has no reserve minutes under his belt, meaning a return to the mix would be a huge risk.
And with George Francomb limping out of last week’s 1-0 win over Swindon at Carrow Road with a thigh injury, it gives the Canary boss a real problem.
“The three lads that have played there are all injured at the moment,” he told the press ahead of the weekend trip to Cheshire.
“That’s just the way it is, but I’m sure whoever comes in will do a great job for me. It’s part and parcel of the game so whoever plays there will do their best. I don’t have any fear, whoever plays there will be fine.”
A little dabble in the loan market looks to have proved unsuccessful so with numbers clearly so thin on the ground, Lambert is faced with two options – to take someone out of their natural position or throw in another young gun.
And the Scot hinted that a current first teamer may possibly be asked to ‘do a job’; Francomb is as young and raw as Lambert is prepared to go.
“George [Francomb] was the last of the current group. There are one or two below that but then you’re going really, really young.
“It’s a big, big ask for someone who hasn’t really played. Even George only came in against Gillingham. But it’s a situation we find ourselves in and we have to adjust.”
Michael Nelson is one name that has been bandied around for the right-back gig, but again Lambert hinted that the risk would be too great.
To put a centre-back in there is one thing. But to put a centre-back only just returning from a spell out with an ankle injury in there is quite another.
“He’s been out for six weeks and he’s not really trained that much. We put him on the other day against Swindon because we needed height – but that was only for five minutes.
“He came through some minutes at Ipswich as well in the week but he’s not had enough game time or training time to just throw him in.”
One player destined to start the game is Adam Drury and the Edgeley Park encounter will be his 300th appearance in the yellow and green.
The player signed from Peterborough in March 2001 has had his fair share of injuries in recent years. But to clock up 300 games for one club is a major achievement in this day and age.
And Lambert, like all his predecessors in the City hot seat, only had good words to say about the 31-year-old.
“It’s terrific. His career must have started at a young age to get that amount of games but he’s a terrific pro, a terrific footballer and more importantly he’s been terrific for me since I’ve been here. If you play 300 games you can certainly class yourself as a top footballer.
“The great thing about Adam is that you very rarely have to tell him how well he’s done at half-time or full-time. If you rarely have to tell them that then their intake is usually pretty good.
“He’s never let me down but the same can be said for a lot of them, not just Adam. The young ones have been great and the experienced ones can pull them through it.”
Despite injuries still hampering Lambert’s best-laid plans, the Norfolk club will go into tomorrow’s match as favourites, with Gary Ablett’s County lying in 20th place in League One.
Their home form has also been a cause for concern in Cheshire – the Hatters have only recorded one success on home turf all season.
But Lambert isn’t paying much attention to what has been and gone. As is the pre-match ritual now, he insisted it will be another tough game.
“I don’t look into that [their home form] too much. They will raise their game and the atmosphere will lift them. We’ll have to go above that.
“But if we play as we have been recently we’ll create chances and hopefully with the form that we’re in at the minute we’ll come away with the win.”