Norwich travel to the New York Stadium to play Rotherham United in the league cup tonight (k.o. 19:45)
The Millers will be desperate to get a good result tonight after a shocking start to the season which has seen them pick up just one point from the 12 on offer and that a 0-0 draw against Championship new boys Preston at home. Manager, Steve Evans, who has, this week, been singing the praises of our very own Alex Neil after the two became acquainted at their UEFA Pro License course, will be hoping that they can recreate the form that matched Norwich City the two times they met in the league last season.
We all know what happened there. Two 1-1 draws in games where Norwich really should have done better (arguably costing us an automatic place in the Prem (not that we would have it any other way now that we have hindsight)).
So – what’s in store this time?
Well, history for starters. We’ve played Rotherham five times in the league cup and never lost. In 1967 a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road was followed by a 2-0 win away. In 1989 a complete repeat and in 2006 we dispensed with the home leg and just beat them 4-2. Ryan Jarvis with a brace.
The Millers had a tough season last year after a nine-year absence. They picked up some decent wins but a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player cost them dear and relegation fears were only eased on the penultimate game of the season. Evans would have been hoping for a consolidatory year, but early form suggests the club is in for another bumpy ride despite signing a few new players, notably, Jon Newell from Peterborough to shore up a leaky defence that conceded 67 goals in the league last season.
The BBC are reporting that Joe Mattock (foot) and Richie Smallwood (hamstring) are both doubtful.
As for Norwich, reports are suggesting that some of the fringe players might get a look-in with Lafferty now fit and ready for selection. With renewed bids being put in for Afobe it is time the fringe strikers, Hooper, Laffs and RvW, got their respective acts together and demonstrate to Sir Alex that they can play in his preferred system and score the goals that will plunder the points for Premier league survival.
Martin Olsson may also get a run-out after his shoulder surgery and he must be desperate to show AN that Brady is not a dead-cert for that left-back position.
Norwich are absolutely bloody useless in cup competitions and no one is expecting this season to be any different. We need to stay in the league to benefit from the ridiculously huge amounts of money being lauded around next season – so, make no mistake, if this competition in ANY WAY reduces our chances of that primary goal being achieved we won’t risk it. Tonight, I feel, we’ll put out a decent team to keep our away record going and to keep our positive momentum in place – but don’t mistake that for a commitment to the cup – especially this particular one.
With that in mind I’d suggest we’ll see a number of changes in key areas tonight. Jerome may well get a run out – to help him get off the mark this season – but I’d suggest Grabban will start. We might even see starts for Andre Wisdom and Jake Kean.
Neil will want to wrap this up in one go and certainly will not be happy with a replay – so expect his usual attacking style.
Should be a good game.