Doncaster Rovers’ appeal for this evening’s Championship clash with the Canaries to be postponed due to their chronic injury crisis duly fell on deaf ears today as far as the Carrow Road club were concerned.
The South Yorkshire side – victims of a 6-0 home hammering by Ipswich Town last week and a further 3-0 defeat to City’s promotion rivals Swansea City at the weekend – have 15 players out with various ailments.
Star midfielder James Coppinger was the latest to disappear – injured in the warm-up at The Liberty Stadium.
Hence their desire to get this evening’s clash postponed.
All of which prompted the Canaries to take the unusual step of confirming that tonight’s game was still very much game on. It wasn’t their problem, would be the bottom line.
And, according to chief executive David McNally, would set a dangerous precedent were the Football League to accede to the appeals from his opposite number at the KeepMoat Stadium.
“There is nothing in the Football League’s rules that would allow them to call the game off,” McNally told BBC Radio Norfolk.
“Even if there was something within the regulations that allowed the game to be called off, what a tragic, dangerous precedent for the game that would be.
“There would be cases being made on a daily basis by clubs, heart-wrenching stories from clubs on injury problems. And it would be a farce.”
Coppinger’s last minute disappearance left Dean Shiels stepping up to the plate; leaving, in turn, just four players on the bench.
The much-travelled Jason Euell and Franck Moussa were handed their debuts whilst one-time Canary transfer target Billy Sharp (groin) headed a casualty list that also included James Hayter (calf), midfielder Ryan Mason (leg), James Chambers (hamstring), James O’Connor (foot), Shelton Martis (ankle), Mustapha Dumbuya (knee) , Brian Stock (back), Simon Gillett (knee) and Martin Woods (groin).
All of which found Rovers’ chairman John Ryan heading to the Football League in the hope of finding a sympathetic ear.
It will be a mis-match, appeared to be his line.
Suits us, would be the line from deep within Carrow Road as the Canaries look to make the very most of Saturday’s hard-earned point against fellow promotion hoipefuls Leeds United with three against a struggling Rovers side.
“I said to the Football League ‘Do you really think that’s fair on the paying public?’,” Ryan told the Yorkshire Press, appealing in vain for someone’s sense of ‘fair play’.
Alas football has never played fair; them’s the breaks…
“I wanted them to cancel the match,” Ryan added.
“It’s an unbalanced, unfair game. We’re talking 13 or 14 players out here of a 25-man squad, with players hardly fit on the bench.
“I think it’s about time football should stop being a ‘dog eat dog’ situation, which it is in the Championship, and should apply more sporting rules.”
All of which will clearly heighten the levels of expecatation among the home faithful of a resounding home win against such a sorely-depleted and seemingly demoralised Rovers side; still – one suspects – reeling from that 6-0 home humiliation.
The fact that City boss Paul Lambert has again moved with speed and purpose in the transfer market – bringing in experienced centre-half Rob Edwards in from Premiership Blackpool as cover for the injured Leon Barnett – will merely fuel the feel-good factor sweeping around the city and county.
Given the manner in which both Zak Whitbread and Elliott Ward defended in the teeth of a Leeds gale at Elland Road suggests that Edwards my well have to await his debut.
The one ‘but’ being the injury-issue that continues to dog Whitbread following the Texan’s arrival in Norfolk 13 months ago.
And, of course, Lambert has fresh injury issues of his own as he re-groups his squad minues both Chrissy Martin and appendix victim Simon Lappin – now expected to be out for a fortnight following his emergency surgery over the weekend.
Otherwise, it’s very much ‘Game on…’