F2C: We need to close the gap
As Norwich prepare to welcome Phil Parkinson`s Charlton Athletic to Carrow Road tomorrow afternoon, you have to wonder if this game could be the bench mark just to show how far Norwich have actually fallen.
Parkinson`s side sit top of League One on 19 points having won 6 of their 7 league games, whilst City find themselves in 14th place on 8 points having won only 2 of their 7 league games, and you have to wonder if the 11 point gap between the two sides wont have been extended by quarter to five tomorrow afternoon.
Whilst the odds are stacked firmly against City, tomorrows fixture is a 'must win` as the need for three points is more important than ever. It may sound a little dramatic this early in the season, but a loss would put the Addicks 14 points in front of us and ambitions of automatic promotion would begin to ebb away.
Injuries have hit Paul Lambert`s side hard after the away trip to MK Dons earlier in the week, and with Adam Drury, Michael Nelson and Stephen Hughes joining Gill, Tudur Jones and Wiggins in the treatment room, you would be hard pushed to name a competent starting eleven to take on Charlton.
Lambert has insisted that Wes Hoolahan is not surplus to requirements, although whether he is likely to be included in Lambert`s immediate plans is another thing, but with the lack of midfielders that the Manager has at his disposal, through injury and allowing players to go out on loan, it would be madness to leave the 27 year old out.
City`s already depleted side has suffered further casualties in the last couple of days as Lambert has made public the fact that Doherty`s services are no longer required, and that he is free to start looking for a new club. Add to that with the departure of Simon Whaley to Rochdale on a one month emergency loan, and you have to wonder whether Lambert needs a quick sniff on the smelling salts.
Neither Doherty or Whaley are likely to feature in any of Lambert`s starting elevens, but after the away game at stadium:mk and it being more than evident that some of City`s youngsters need to be broken in slightly more gently, you have to wonder if there wouldn`t be some mileage in having Doherty and Whaley available on the bench for the time being.
So, where do you start? Well we are pretty much guaranteed that Forster is going to start in goal, and with Nelson being doubtful I would expect a central defensive pairing of Spillane and Askou. Otsemobor is likely to start on the right, whilst I have everything crossed that Drury has shaken off his injury to slot in at left back, as Lappin`s performance in that position is questionable to say the least!
Lambert, I should imagine will go with a flat four in midfield, with McVeigh, Lappin, Smith and Hughes if he is again fit, but there lies the problem. As replacements go, Russell by all accounts is still nursing an injury, so that rules him out of the equation, whilst Adeyemi needs to be broken in more gradually, and is a good option from the bench if required. Hoolahan would be the more reasoned option but you have to wonder if he will be given the chance.
Personally, I would go with three in midfield in the shape of McVeigh, Smith and Lappin, and then up front, providing he has recovered from his bug, partner McDonald with Holt, with Hoolahan slotted in behind them.
Quite who that leaves for the bench is anyone`s guess, and definitely not something I am going to stick my neck on the line by even trying to predict, but like me you will no doubt have everything crossed that we don`t pick up the amount of injuries that occurred last Monday evening, as I for one cant see where the required cover is coming from.Forces2Canaries are the official Norwich City Supporters Group for current and ex-members of the Armed Forces and their dependants, and this column first appeared on the F2C website.
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