Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Stephen Bateman
Norwich City make the trip to Cleethorpes on Saturday, as the Mariners look to build on a steady mid-week performance at Wimbledon. Chinese international skipper Zhang En Hua looks as though he may be finally set to make his first start for the Mariners against the Canaries.
The Mariners home form has been impressive this season. In fact, it may well be argued that the major contributing factor regarding Grimsby's current lowly position in the league is that of the last 10 games Lennie Lawrence's men have played, 7 have been away from home.
At Blundell Park, it is another story entirely, with Town unbeaten in their last four home performances, taking 10 points from the last 15 available. It is a particular speciality this season for the Mariners to take 3 points from teams which surround them in the lower reaches of the first division; QPR, Huddersfield and Gillingham have all fallen foul at the hands of Grimsby so far this season.
Injury problems continue to hamper Lennie Lawrence's plans, although the bad news is, for a change, also tempered by good news. Bradley Allen, Paul Raven, Peter Handyside, Neil Murray, Kingsley Black and Alan Pouton will all definitely miss the game through injury - Steve Livingstone (flu), John McDermott (toe), Knut Anders Fostervold (nose), Tony Gallimore (shin) and Richard Smith (flu) will all undergo fitness checks before the Mariners squad is named.
On a brighter note, having secured a work permit earlier this week, Zhang En Hua, described by his new manager last week as "a class act", looks almost certain to make his debut on Saturday. The Chinese international captain looks likely to partner Paul Groves in the centre of defence, as Richard Smith is rested.
Speaking of Smith, Lawrence told the Grimsby Evening Telegraph: "I've got to weigh up whether he can play three games in seven days and it's tall order to ask him to play. He finished with cramp on Wednesday."
Lawrence's words ahead of the match had a most familiar ring to them as he spoke of yet another game where avoiding defeat is his priority:
"Norwich will be tough after their recent managerial change and they had a good win last time out so, we can't afford to go into the game unprepared. It's vital that we get something out of the match and preferably three points, however, not losing is a top priority.
"If we can get a couple of wins we'll be alright, but we've got to be careful. We could draw tomorrow and still end up bottom."
Grimsby Town: Coyne, Butterfield, McDermott, R Smith, Groves, En Hua, Gallimore, Fostervold, Donovan, Willems, Coldicott, Burnett, Nielsen, Livingstone, Croudson, D Smith, Jeffrey, Bloomer.
Having recently parted company with former Northern Ireland manager Bryan Hamilton, these are turbulent times for the Canaries. As the mists clear, it now seems that the current favourites for the vacancy are current caretaker boss Nigel Worthington and former Grimsby local-hero, Kevin Drinkell. Former Manchester United and Norwich captain Steve Bruce has also been rumoured to be in the running.
The Canaries recent away form has been poor, to say the least. Losses to Portsmouth, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston in their last four away fixtures should give the Mariners cause for optimism, although Norwich returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory against Gillingham at Carrow Road last Saturday.
Striker Alex Notman and former Manchester United midfielder Phil Mulryne could both make returns for Worthington's struggling side. Iwan Roberts (pictured), once again the leading scorer after topping the Norwich charts for the last two seasons, will be the main concern for a Mariners defence that has struggled against both physical and aerial attacks throughout the season.
Norwich are currently lying in 17th place, just 4 points ahead of Grimsby and will be anxious not to be drawn into the relegation quagmire with a defeat on Saturday.
For a complete list of fixtures between the Mariners and Norwich click here
For Norwich fans looking for directions to Blundell Park look no futher than our directions page.
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