Norwich City go into this game having played very well against Derby last Monday. It was an emphatic 3-0 win and a performance worthy of the score line. After weeks of toiling but without spark, the players just suddenly seemed to take it upon themselves to pull something out of the bag and play like we know they can.
I would prefer that we were playing Rotherham in the league today but the pressure is arguably off, with this visit from Premier League Southampton in the FA Cup,to Carrow Road.
The tickets aren’t cheap at £25 a pop for adults, so I wouldn’t think it’ll be anywhere near a sell out and a report I saw mid-week suggested that The Saints had sold around 1,500 tickets.
Still, if City really have ‘turned the corner’ then this could be a good time to be playing them, especially as they lost all of their three games over the Christmas period. That was three games in 117 hours – ouch.
Graham Dorrans is likely to be out for two months but does not require surgery for his knee ligament damage. Matt Jarvis will return to the squad and could make his first start of the season. Harry Toffolo and James Maddison are both back at the club after loan spells ending but will not be involved today, Alex Neil says. Meanwhile, Louis Thompson is back in light training but not ready for a return just yet.
Virgil van Dijk is available again after a ban but seems unlikely to play with a swarm of interest around him from some big clubs who see him as a January target. Charlie Austin (shoulder) and Jeremy Pied (knee) both remain long term injured.
Manager Claude Puel has a big decision to make over his Captain, Jose Fonte after the centre back handed in a transfer request. The Portuguese Euro 2016 winner has 18 months left on his contract and this seems his last transfer window for a big fee before that contract starts running down, he’s also 33 years old now.
Norwich have a wretched 3rd round record in this competition, having progressed from just 4 of their last 18 ties at this stage and having failed to do so in any of the last 3 seasons, losing 3-0 to Man City last year.
Southampton have failed to score on any of their last three visits to Carrow Road (D1, L2)
WHAT TO EXPECT
It will depend on the team that Alex Neil puts out and if they are up for it. Neil is desperately short of central midfielders and really only has Howson and Tettey as senior players there. Alex Tettey’s knee could no doubt do with a rest but it seems that he may well have to play because there’s no-one else available.
You would assume that there will be changes and that the likes of Josh Murphy, Cameron Jerome and Seb Bassong will all be given a chance to impress. Nelson Oliveira is the main man at the moment and will probably be given a watching brief from the bench, at least initially.
I doubt Neil will change formation and the old 4-2-3-1 will be in use today. Much will depend on the visitors and if they are up for it. Obviously there is one player in their ranks who will be and that is Nathan Redmond, sold in the summer for a ‘club record fee’ rumoured to be around £11m.
Redderz seems to have divided opinion a little on the south coast with reports from the fans at St. Mary’s suggesting he has been inconsistent.
Nathan? Inconsistent? Well I never…