Norwich City are sitting in the bar at the Last Chance Saloon as they welcome old rivals, Ipswich Town to Carrow Road for Sunday’s derby match (12 noon ko).
Mind you, it’s like that every week at the moment.
A lack of consistency has cost the Canaries on the road with defeat at Burton last weekend being the latest setback. The riotous, goal scoring romps against Derby, Wolves and Forest of early 2017, were just papering over the cracks in my opinion.
Having said all that, there is still light ahead and straws to cling onto, as Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday face off today. Both are level on points in 5th and 6th places respectively in the Championship. Norwich then have to travel to Hillsborough next weekend to take on the Owls in another huge game – there’s a few of those around at the moment.
There’s a lot of ‘ifs and buts’ BUT, Norwich could be right back in it if they can beat Ipswich and Wednesday.
I did say there were a lot of ‘ifs’ involved.
Ivo Pinto and Steven Naismith were the big injury news stories at Colney on Thursday with Alex Neil suggesting both are ready to return. Pinto’s pace is a major weapon for us and despite what my mate Chris says, I’m pleased that Naismith is back because he is an asset. Youssouf Mulumbu is also likely to be available.
Other than that, it’s as you were – Nelson Oliveira is hard at it (according to his Instagram account) as he looks to get back to fitness but Graham Dorrans and Louis Thompson are still out long term.
On-loan Tom Lawrence is still suspended, while captain Luke Chambers and midfielder Toumani Diagouraga have been ill this week – so have I but I’ll still be there.
Freddie Sears (groin) will be assessed before kick-off but is likely to make it.
Midfielder Luke Hyam (knee) and winger Danny Rowe (hip/groin) could both travel to Norfolk but will be late calls.
WHAT TO EXPECT
We all know by now what to expect from a Mick McCarthy Ipswich Town side, don’t we?
There will be 100% effort and physicality, which will be amplified by the occasion. This is basically, as ever in recent years, their cup final.
What we get from Norwich remains to be seen. If they can’t match the visitors’ energy and physical levels then they’ll be in trouble.
If they can, and that’s why Naismith is a welcome returnee, then it should be game on. There is no doubt that City have the better players technically and we are at home. Those two assets helped with the crack papering against Derby, Wolves and Forest and another display like those would be most welcome.
McGoldrick and Sears are the danger men and both have half decent movement and a bit of pace, as well as the direct nature of a McCarthy side’s behind them. Town have come into a little bit of form lately with six points in the last four games, which is undoubtedly their best period of the season.
For Norwich, the blues’ tormentor in chief, Mr Wesley Hoolahan will be key as he looks to stick it to Town once again. The headline that I kept reading this week is that City are unbeaten against the old enemy in eight years – let’s make sure that we keep that going eh?
Both teams have something to play for, albeit in Town’s case it’s only local bragging rights. For Norwich, defeat is unthinkable and it’s another ‘must win’ game in a season full of them so far.
If they don’t win, City might find themselves being turfed out of the Last Chance Saloon and choking on the dust as the top six ride off into the sunset.