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‘It was his desire to play and I totally agreed’ – City captain ready to return against former club Blackburn

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:03 21 December 2018

Canaries captain Grant Hanley takes on instructions from head coach Daniel Farke during last week's draw at Bristol City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Canaries captain Grant Hanley takes on instructions from head coach Daniel Farke during last week's draw at Bristol City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Canaries captain Grant Hanley made the decision to play another under-23 game to ensure he was fit enough for tomorrow’s battle with his old club Blackburn, with the full backing of his head coach.

The Scotland international defender returned from three months out with a thigh injury during last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bristol City, replacing the unwell Christoph Zimmermann for the final 30 minutes.

Hanley followed that with a full 90 minutes during a 1-1 draw with Sunderland U23s at Colney on Monday night to shake off any remaining rust.

“This game was important and this was a tough game for him, to be honest, but we got the feeling that it helps a bit in his way of really being back in shape,” City boss Daniel Farke said.

“It was also his desire to play because he is an experienced player and he got the feeling what is more important, proper training or an under-23 game? It was his desire to play and I totally agreed that it was a good decision.”

TEAM NEWS: Klose ruled out but Leitner fully fit ahead of City’s trip to Blackburn

With the flu bug which had affected Zimmermann and others in the City squad now cleared up, the Scot is back in contention for a start, with Timm Klose missing the trip to Lancashire having returned to training in recent days after a knee problem.

“I think in general after a big injury it’s not that after 30 minutes in the first team you are totally back in business and totally back in shape,” Farke added of Hanley, who made 200 appearances for Rovers.

“Especially in the centre-back role it’s quite important to have a few games. With a striker you can bring them in sometimes after an injury and it’s not so important if he loses three or four balls but he can do something magic with one goal, and you take a risk.

“But as a centre-back it’s important that you play without any mistakes because each and every mistake, a bit like a goalkeeper, can be punished.

“Grant was not only out for three months with the injury but also nearly the whole of pre-season, so we got the feeling that every game is important for him. He has now had a few games with the under-23s and also 30 minutes with the first team, I think he looked pretty sharp.”

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