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Wed 18/01
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LL: "Fortunate" Delay

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 25/03/2001

SATURDAY'S postponement of the game against Blackburn due to international commitments of various Blackburn Rovers players could not fallen at a better time believes Grimsby manager Lennie Lawrence.

The 11-day break between Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Birmingham and Saturday's clash with Norwich coincides with a period when several players are on the sidelines for the Mariners. "The break comes at the right time." Lawrence told the Evening Telegraph. "We would be playing the most in-form team in the division and we need to be at our very best to have a chance of a point."

"If we were playing today [Saturday] there would have been no Wayne Burnett, Menno's girlfriend had a baby in Holland so he's off for a couple of days. Daryl Clare wouldn't be fit and we'd be down to two fit forwards." said Lawrence, although the Grimsby boss has been accustomed to lacking numbers in the forward area in recent weeks, with Town at times having only had one out-and-out front player available for selection over the last few games.

"Other people are carrying bumps and bruises and they would be less than 100 per cent. Zhang is, as is John McDermott. If we had a game they'd play, but you need to be at your best against them, not scratching around." added Lawrence.

Blackburn have a number of players on international duty this week including Keith Gillespie (Northern Ireland), Jason McAteer (Irish Republic) and Nathan Blake (Wales). The Mariners' fixture with Rovers has been rearranged for the 24th April, the first of the campaign's final trio of games which sees the Town facing a tricky looking run-in to the end of the season. Following the fixture against Graeme Souness' side, Grimsby have to play Birmingham (away) and Fulham (home) in the final two games of the season.

The Mariners hope to see a return for striker Steve Livingstone for Saturday's clash with Norwich, after over a month out with a calf injury sustained in February's 3-1 defeat at the City Ground Nottingham. Livingstone could be joined in the squad by fellow striker Bradley Allen, with the 29 year old front man rated as having an outside chance of being available after an earlier than expected recovery from an ankle injury. Left sided utility man David Smith also resumed training again this week, and managed to play for an hour in Friday's cup defeat for the reserves against Sheffield United, giving manager Lennie Lawrence another option for the game against the Canaries.


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