The Inside Track: Norwich City

By SFC Media Tue 17 Jan Saints vs Norwich
Photo by Action Images

As Southampton prepare to host Norwich City in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, we got the lowdown on the Canaries from Norwich Evening News reporter Paddy Davitt.

How do you think Alex Neil and Norwich will approach the replay?

The simple fact of the matter is, after losing to bottom club Rotherham on Saturday, this week’s Championship game against Wolves, and former boss Paul Lambert, really is the priority. Norwich picked up fresh injuries and had in-form striker Nelson Oliveira sent off against the Millers. Getting back to the Premier League looks a long way off now, with an eight-point gap to sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday, but that was the stated aim at the start of the season. Expect Norwich’s line up for this FA Cup replay to reflect that.

How have Norwich been playing since the first meeting?

Steven Naismith’s stoppage-time leveller against Saints extended Norwich’s unbeaten run to three games, after a wretched spell prior to Christmas of eight defeats in ten. But any sense Alex Neil and his players were finally heading in the right direction abruptly ended at Rotherham. Oliveira was sent-off for a petulant retaliatory slap on Kirk Broadfoot in the opening quarter of the game. Norwich had already conceded a soft early goal and despite getting back on level terms in the second-half went behind again just four minutes later. To add insult to injury, the winner was scored by a former Norwich City academy graduate, and Rotherham’s interim boss, Paul Warne, is a Norwich City fan from Norfolk. Throw in an injury to influential midfielder Jonny Howson and, as Neil himself summed it up afterwards, ‘everything that could go wrong, did go wrong’.

What sort of a team/style would you expect?

Given those fresh injury concerns, plus Martin Olsson is poised to complete a move to Swansea City, I would expect a number of changes from the side that played the first tie at Carrow Road. The new faces will be younger players, rather than experienced fringe first-teamers, which was Neil’s approach in the first tie. City simply do not have the bodies available at present to take risks.

Alex Tettey is their only fit senior central midfielder and he is one booking from a two-game ban, so its unlikely the Norwegian international will feature. Cameron Jerome played in the first tie but with Nelson Oliveira now starting a three-match suspension, Neil may opt to keep him in reserve for the Championship. It might be a chance for highly-rated youngsters such as Ben Godfrey and James Maddison to get a look in.

Who do you think could be the danger men for Norwich?

Alex Neil likes to keep an experienced core on the pitch when he unveils his cup line ups. He did not play in the first tie, but Republic of Ireland international Robbie Brady may get a run out at St Mary’s after serving a three-match ban for violent conduct. The 24-year-old is heavily touted with a January transfer departure, but until a potential suitor meets Norwich’s valuation he remains in Neil’s plans and needs a game after not playing since December 31.


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