There was some positive news on the Canary injury front this morning, with boss Paul Lambert declaring Darel Russell fit for action.
The all-action midfielder missed Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Southend with a dead leg. But the City chief revealed that both Russell and left-back Adam Drury should be ready to face Oldham at Carrow Road tomorrow.
Drury was replaced at the break against the Shrimpers with an ankle knock sustained in the first half. But the Scot insisted the outlook was positive when questioned on the defender’s fitness.
“Darel’s OK, he’s fit. Everybody has come through Tuesday’s game OK, it’s just the same ones that have been out that are unavailable.
“And Adam’s hopefully going to try it for tomorrow. It’s looking more positive for him than it was the other day.”
As a result, Lambert has a selection headache for tomorrow’s Latics clash, with Stephen Hughes or Russell likely to be the one conundrum occupying most of his thoughts.
Hughes is a class act at this level but the form of Russell has been key to City’s recent run of form and it would be a brave call to keep ‘Rusty’ on the bench.
But Lambert was happy with the Scot’s contribution at Roots Hall – even if he was playing in the unfamiliar holding midfield role.
“Yes, I was pleased with him. It’s a strange role for Stephen,” said the Canary boss, in chirpy mood speaking to reporters at Colney this morning.
“I think Stephen has played that role a few times before but he’s more offensive than defensive. But for him to come in, having not played a full game for a while, was great.
“I think it’s important that if you haven’t been playing, you come into the team and adjust really quickly. Young Tom Adeyemi came in having not played too many games, Stephen came back from injury and I thought Russell [Martin] came in and was excellent.
“We freshened it up with Russell coming in at right-back. We thought about changing it but I didn’t want one defeat to blight what we’ve done, thankfully what we did worked.”
One player who did his chances no harm in Essex was 18-year-old Academy product Adeyemi. He entered the fray at half-time after Drury’s knock forced Simon Lappin to left-back and Lambert admitted he’d have no qualms in throwing him in again.
“He’s only young and hasn’t played many games but Tom came on and showed me what he can do. I wouldn’t have him about the place if I didn’t think he could do it.
“Luke Daley was the same; he hasn’t played since the Northampton reserve game and hasn’t done much training either. But I thought that near the end, with his pace, he might do something.”
Tomorrow’s visit of Oldham, on paper, looks like another great opportunity for City to close the gap on second placed Charlton. Sitting pretty in third, the Norfolk club are looking like the real deal – but Lambert warned against any complacency.
“It’s a tough game, no matter where teams are in the league, it’s really tough to win football matches. Oldham have had some up and down results but I’ve got a lot of time for Dave Penney.
“He’s a really good manager and this will be a really difficult game. Dave knows the league, we’ll have to be on top of our game and if we are, hopefully we’ll win the game.”
After plenty of road trips in recent weeks, all concerned will be glad to return to terra firma. And with five wins out of five, and no league defeats since that fateful opening day shocker against Colchester, Carrow Road is becoming a League One fortress.
“You’ve got to win your home games and if you can pick up points away from home then you’ll hopefully be there or thereabouts. But at home, you have to try and win more games than not.”
Remember, if you haven’t got a ticket for tomorrow’s Carrow Road clash, you can follow all the action on MFW. And if you’re feeling brave, join in the conversation – just add a #ncfc to your message on Twitter.
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