Norwich City’s Premier League trip to Everton earlier this season already seems a very long time ago – we seem to have been in the grip of winter ever since walking out of Goodison Park late on that rain-lashed November afternoon.

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But for one man, it must seem a great deal longer than three months since Sébastien Bassong’s last-minute equaliser earned the Canaries a very valuable point.

Goalkeeper John Ruddy’s unlucky 13th appearance of the season was cut short when he hobbled off eight minutes from time with what proved to be a ruptured thigh muscle.

Appearing against his former club, he was given a generous ovation, but it was a bad injury that required surgery and 13 weeks on, as the teams prepare for tomorrow’s return fixture, he has missed 13 Premier League games and is still a long way short of making a first team comeback.

Manager Chris Hughton said yesterday he hoped to see 26-year-old Ruddy in action again before the end of the season, but will not be taking any chances.

The original forecast of three months on the sidelines and a possible return in March is looking rather optimistic. Three months are up and March is a week away.

Hughton said: “I hope we will see him again this season but I also hope the form of the two ’keepers we have in Mark Bunn and Lee Camp means we certainly don’t have to rush him back.

“He is very much on schedule and doing very well at the moment.

“He has had no setbacks in the work that he has been doing. Probably the tail end of his work will be the kicking work he can do and he is not really at that stage. But we’ve been pleased with everything he has done so far.

“He has been very good in all the work that he has done. He is looking in very good shape at the moment.”

With 28-year-old Bunn keeping three clean sheets in his last five outings and settling into his role, and Camp recruited on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest and given a contract until the end of the season, Hughton wants Ruddy, who is just four matches short of 100 senior appearances for the Canaries, to be fully recovered before returning to action.

It was doubly unfortunate in that it was the second injury to afflict Ruddy since his England international involvement began. The first came when he was forced to pull out of Euro 2012 just days after being named in the squad, because of a broken finger he suffered in training.

Hughton said: “I think when you have had an injury of the kind John has had and he has had surgery, we have to make sure we do everything right.

“He will only be back when it is right medically.

“It will be frustrating for him but there is lots of encouragement from him.

“He is in the changing room before every game.

“What he is not able to do at the moment is be out on the training pitch around the other goalkeepers. Most of the work he has been doing has been with the physios and the medical department but he is around and it’s not as if he hasn’t been able to work.

“Apart from going away for a few days, he has been in and around everybody since then and he’s certainly a good one to have around.”

• IF YOU WANT TO GET AHEAD, GET A HAIRDO

Big hair has never been much of an option for yours truly, for obvious reasons.

But I was amused this week by Everton star Marouane Fellaini’s claim that Premier League referees single him out because of his extravagant hairstyle.

Fellaini said: “No doubt it’s because I am not someone who can pass by unnoticed. I am tall, and my hairstyle is easily recognised. I know how to give defenders problems. I can see them keeping a special eye on me – they are frightened of me.”

The most dramatic change of hairstyle I can remember from years of watching Norwich City came at the start of the big perm craze, when midfielder Colin Suggett – now the Canaries’ North East scout – suddenly appeared in an FA Cup tie at Leeds in 1977 looking like the guy from the Hair Bear Bunch. Gradually some of his team-mates followed suit over the next couple of seasons.

I don’t think it scared opponents, but it didn’t stop him being one of the finest players ever to pull on the yellow shirt.

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