The Brighton Preview
Not much has changed for both Norwich and Brighton since October's 5-0 thrashing at the hands of, ironically, a 'defence minded' manager in Chris Hughton. No one can deny the fabulous job he has done on the south coast and the fact that the seagulls haven't looked back since that fateful day at the Amex is telling.
Norwich, however, have continued the inconsistent performances that have derailed their attempts for promotion. This is after all, arguably, the meeting of the most inconsistent team against the most consistent team.
One thing is for sure, this will be a much tighter affair than the reverse fixture. Brighton, having already being promoted, will have less riding on this game, although there is still the title at stake. It would be apt for the former Norwich manager to win the championship at Carrow Road. But our home has been a fortress this season, not many teams have come to NR1 and conquered. Even Newcastle with the best away form in the division had to come from behind to get a point here, we will be a good match for the soon to be premier league team.
Will Alan Irvine give James Maddison a full league debut? He will be full of confidence having scored in a late cameo at Preston last time out. He has been waiting patiently on the sidelines now and I think he deserves his chance to show what he is about. Whether this is the right game is up for debate. Some will argue that starting him will be throwing him in to the deep end, but I will argue that there isn't much to lose in starting an obvious talent in a pretty meaningless game. If I don't see his name on the team sheet come Friday, I will be disappointed, but Alan Irvine knows what he's doing. He's shown that.
The news that Timm Klose will miss this game with injury is a bit of a blow, but we all know that he hasn't been close to his best this season. Just look up the Swiss defender's mistake for Burton Albion's 1st goal against us in the 2-1 defeat earlier this season, and you will see he is a shadow of the footballer that made Ryan Bennett look good at the back end of last season before his untimely injury. Possibly the best of a bad bunch of CB's at Norwich this season, it's hard to make a case for him being at the club next season.
Bennett and Martin at centre back will of course be a weak point, especially against the likes of Glenn Murray who has set the Championship alight this season. Ruddy in goal is my preferred choice with his physical presence along with Dijks and Pinto at full back making for a more solid defence, albeit one that is not without its faults. Despite Graham Dorrans' brilliance in the win at Preston I feel it is time to give Ben Godfrey a go in midfield. He, like Maddison, deserves a chance to stake a claim. Other than that, I feel a similar side to the one that beat Preston with a bit of youth added could give Brighton a run for their money. Go on Alan, try it and see what happens.