Date: 30th November 2011 at 2:48pm
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Norwich gave a welcome return to action to defensive duo Zak Whitbread and Daniel Ayala against Dereham in the Norfolk Senior Cup last night.

The pair played a full 90 minutes in a young Norwich side that knocked out current Norfolk Senior Cup holders side Dereham in a 5-1 victory. A Josh Murphy hat-trick managed to defeat Dereham who stunned City at Carrow Road last season in the semi-finals stage of the competition. Other goals came from Matt Ball and Reece Hall-Johnson, while forward Billy Smith converted for Dereham.

Ayala, 21, had been out of action since he suffered a knee problem against MK Dons in the League Cup 2nd round. The Spaniard was a summer signing after injuries to Elliott Ward and Zak Whitbread had left Norwich short on central defensive options – thus leading to Lambert`s masterstroke in placing Russell Martin in a central position.

The match against MK Dons was Ayala`s first start for Norwich, with his only other appearance coming as a sub in the Premier League against Stoke City.

While Whitbread, 27, was injured after pulling his hamstring against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in August – days after Daniel Ayala was ruled out. The ex-Millwall player, who signed in January 2010, played a vital role in Norwich`s promotion in the second half of last season after managing to come over a knee injury that had limited him to just two starts in his first year at the club.

He currently has three starts to his name this season in the League and Cup, although every game he has started in the league has resulted in an injury for the American.

Both players will now be in contention for a place on bench at the weekend when Norwich face league leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

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