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Norwich City facing worrying fixture jam

PUBLISHED: 09:30 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:22 02 July 2010

The scene at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Monday morning. Picture: Walsall FC

The scene at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Monday morning. Picture: Walsall FC

Norwich City's League One promotion push could stall this month after yesterday's latest Walsall postponement left Paul Lambert's men potentially facing only two more fixtures before February.

Norwich City's League One promotion push could stall this month after yesterday's latest Walsall postponement left Paul Lambert's men potentially facing only two more fixtures before February.

City's second scheduled trip to the Banks's Stadium tonight was called off again due to a frozen pitch after a precursory early morning pitch inspection by local referee Steve Bratt.

The Saddlers' playing surface is frozen solid under the protective covers, with an estimated four inches of snow falling in the West Midlands since the weekend.

No new date has yet been announced for the third attempt to play the fixture after the Canaries' original visit on December 28 was called off less than an hour before kick-off.

Colchester officials yesterday appealed for supporters to help clear snow from their pitch but remain confident Saturday's eagerly anticipated 10,000 League One sell-out will go ahead.

City are scheduled to host Brentford the following week but that league game will be postponed at short-notice if the Londoners beat Doncaster at Griffin Park in their delayed FA Cup third round match next Tuesday evening. The winners of that tie - another of tonight's latest set of games to be called off due to the prolonged cold snap - will travel to Millwall or Derby on the fourth round weekend of January 23.

City officials could now attempt to visit Walsall on the same date should the Bees progress, with the Saddlers also out of the FA Cup following a 1-0 defeat at Brentford in the second round and their scheduled opponents Leeds in cup action.

Lambert's squad only have one scheduled midweek fixture during February and March - Southend at home onFebruary 23 - but Leeds' Johnstone's Paint Trophy success raises the nightmare scenario of cramming nine games into the final 35 days of the season.

The League One leaders should visit Carrow Road on March 27 in possibly a pivotal promotion battle but that game will have to be re-arranged if they reach the Wembley showpiece 24 hours later.

Simon Grayson's side host Carlisle next week in the first leg of the Northern Area final for the right to meet either Southampton or MK Dons on March 28.

City also face a trip to automatic promotion rivals Charlton over that final league run-in and long hauls to Tranmere and Bristol Rovers which would seriously test the depth of Lambert's first team pool.

The Canaries potential fixture headache could have been even worse if Exeter had heeded advice from Norfolk police ahead of Saturday's Carrow Road game not to attempt a treacherous cross-country journey. Grecians' boss Paul Tisdale revealed in his post-match press conference they had been advised not to travel but embarked on a 12 hour trek after speaking to the Football League. That game was one of only seven over the weekend in England and Wales to survive.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan yesterday urged the Premier and Football Leagues to extend the season as the only solution to an escalating fixture backlog.

“What I think will happen is the Premier League will extend the season for an extra week or so,” he said. “I think it is an absolute must, because games are piling up for everybody at the moment.”

Only two top flight games went ahead on Saturday, with early call-offs of Sunday's scheduled Premiership fixtures at Liverpool and West Ham sparking widespread criticism as officials from both clubs cited health and safety concerns on the approaches to the stadiums.

West Ham's game was called off onFriday, only for the surrounds of Upton Park to be virtually snow-free on Sunday, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed last week that the growing spate of winter postponements was a worrying symptom of modern society.

“If one of 60,000 people has an accident, you feel very guilty and nobody accepts any more that the slightest insecurity could exist in society,” he said. “That's why games are postponed when there is no real need. We have gone from individual initiative to collective responsibility. Any single accident that happens to any individual, we are collectively responsible for it.”

Last night's NorfolkSenior Cup quarter-finals between Dereham and Gorleston and Wroxham and Norwich United were postponed for a second time yesterday. Both will now be played next Tuesday.

Lowestoft's scheduled trip to East Thurrock in the Ryman League was also called off.

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