CITY still face a “huge task” to make sure the Valley Parade pitch is suitable for next week’s home game against MK Dons.

Tomorrow’s scheduled clash with Portsmouth was called off yesterday on safety grounds.

An inspection from the club’s safety advisory group confirmed the fixture would join the growing list of weekend games falling victim to the “Beast from the East” weather chaos.

While the playing surface remained covered, the stands had taken a battering from this week’s wintry blast making the early decision a formality.

It also saved their opponents from flying up from the south coast today.

But facilities and operations manager Paula Watson admitted the ground staff will have their work cut out to make sure there are no lingering problems for the visit of Milton Keynes next Saturday.

She said: “The pitch was playable and survived underneath. But we’ve still got a big task to get it ready because it’s been under the covers for the entire week.

“We have to wait until the last of the snowfall before we can take them off and that is probably tomorrow.

“It will be Sunday or Monday when we look to see whether it’s suitable to take the covers up and give it some air.

“You risk damaging the pitch once you’re on with the tractor.

“We’ve got the plough which will take most of the weight off. Then it will be hand shovels to get the rest of it.

“It’s still a huge task because it looks like the temperatures are only getting up to four or five degrees (centigrade) next week. The minute we take those covers up we risk a frozen pitch.

“We’re just hoping for a kinder forecast to give the pitch a chance. But there’s going to be a lot more hard work involved.”

Yesterday’s safety inspection showed that snow had drifted into the main course as well covering seats in the stands.

Watson added: “Our maintenance team have cleared the snow twice this week and it’s just come back.

“Yesterday’s wind just made the snow drift. It was a foot and a half deep in some areas and snow had even got onto the concourse in the west stand.

“It was a complete no-brainer to make the decision and we didn’t want people to travel from near and far.

“The forecast had been heading that way this week but you can’t call a game off on a forecast.

“We had to send proof to the EFL to show how unsafe it was and make the recommendation on those grounds.”