City boss Paul Lambert could have a selection headache or two for this afternoon’s clash at Walsall, with Darel Russell a major doubt.
The influential midfielder, who has been one of the Canaries’ most consistent performers, picked up a hamstring strain in the first half of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Millwall.
To add to the Scot’s frustrations, Stephen Hughes is also suffering from the calf problem that forced him off during the second half on Boxing Day but he is a more likely participant at the Banks’s Stadium.
There was one piece of good news, however, with Lambert revealing that Korey Smith has a chance after his recent absence due to a thigh injury.
“Rusty’s got a slight hamstring strain and Stephen’s had the effects of the injury from the game he missed at Southampton, so we had to reshuffle [against Millwall] but it’s a big credit to the lads that came in,” said Lambert.
“They know the system, Gilly [Matt Gill] came in and did really, really fine and young Tom [Adeyemi] came on and did well as well. Whoever I seem to throw on at the moment, they never let me down.
“We just have to wait and see with Darel, but he’s a doubt. We’re a bit more hopeful Stephen’s going to be OK.”
Taking a glass half full approach, there are worse areas of the pitch for City to suffer and the performance of Gill in particular, when replacing Russell, was a positive.
Simon Lappin also enjoyed one of his better showings against the Lions so the Canary boss does have options in the engine room.
In defence, Gary Doherty, returning from suspension, is likely to slot straight back in, with Russell Martin moving to right-back. As a result, Jon Otsemobor – who looked woefully short on confidence during the Boxing Day success – will miss out.
But Lambert was pleased with his makeshift backline and at the end of the day, a clean sheet is a clean sheet. His players are certainly stepping up to the plate.
“In the second half, Russell and Michael Nelson were outstanding. I thought Michael was terrific in the centre of defence.
“Russell’s played there a couple of times but not to the point where you think he’s going to be a mainstay centre-half.”
The City chief is now well known for his diamond formation but with injuries continuing to threaten his best-laid plans, Lambert didn’t rule out a change if needs be.
He’s more concerned about players rather than personnel……
“It’s hard to say because the personnel make the system, not the system make the personnel,” continued the former Celtic hero.
“It would be wrong of me to try and go with a system just because I think it looks good. That system at the minute is working for Norwich City and it’s working for the personnel.
“They have grasped it really quickly and we’ve got lads that can make things happen, lads that can pass it and have bundles of energy. The lads deserve the credit for what they are doing.”