Birmingham v Norwich City big match preview: New-look Canaries head to St Andrew's
Norwich City begin their Championship campaign away to Birmingham City this afternoon and we've got you covered for the game's key issues, team news and match details all in one place.
NORWICH TEAM NEWS
Jordan Rhodes (ankle) returned to training this week and will travel but the game is likely to come to soon for full-backs Jamal Lewis (muscle strain and illness) and Ivo Pinto (hamstring) despite training this week. The experienced Alex Tettey has overcome the chickenpox and trained for a week so could be an option for the bench. Russell Martin and Nelson Oliveira remain out of favour but Mario Vrancic (pelvis), Matt Jarvis (knee) and Carlton Morris (knee) are all out long term.
Knowing what to expect at St Andrew’s this afternoon could prove rather difficult for home and away fans.
While Canaries supporters making the trip will be eager to see how Daniel Farke’s new-look squad fares against Birmingham City, the home fans will arrive with confusion around their club’s finances.
The Blues have been restricted from making transfers after the EFL decided their losses had exceeded the permitted amount. A business plan has been agreed in recent days which will allow manager Garry Monk to make five signings and the only signing of the summer, left-back Kristian Pedersen, has begrudgingly been registered by the EFL amid the complications.
“Trying to interpret what it means is always a bit difficult,” City boss Farke said ahead of the game. “In general, 100 percent it was perhaps not an easy situation for the club.
“As a coach you want to be sure about what you are going to do as soon as possible during pre-season. That could have an effect but sometimes this situation can mean even more togetherness because they have a tighter group.
“It’s more like they were forced to play with the players who played last season and that means you are not so forced to bring some new signings in, the players know each other and they know there is a higher responsibility on them. Sometimes it’s good for the first game for the understanding and the togetherness, I don’t think the situation helps in the mid to long term but in the short term it can help create togetherness.
“So I wouldn’t just if it is an advantage or disadvantage, it is like it is and we have to handle it.”
BLUES TEAM NEWS
Danish left-back Kristian Pedersen, the only signing of the summer amid transfer restrictions, could be handed his debut. Midfielder David Davis (ankle) and striker Isaac Vassell (knee) will both miss the game.
BIRMINGHAM MANAGER – GARRY MONK
The former Swansea boss took over in March and managed to steer the Blues five points clear of the drop thanks to five wins in 11 games.
Speaking about the transfer restrictions that have hampered his preparations, Monk insisted his squad have maintained their focus.
“It’s been frustrating not being able to strengthen the squad under the embargo. We are finally getting clarification from the EFL, exactly what we can do,” he told the Birmingham Mail.
“That changes the landscape a little bit of what I can and can’t do, there are certain conditions we have to adhere to, not just now but moving forward as well.
“Obviously that makes things a little bit more difficult for me but all I can say is I will be working as hard as possible to try and strengthen the squad under the conditions we face.
“We have to be realistic. The Championship is a hard league anyway, obviously under these conditions that makes it that little bit more hard.
“One thing I can guarantee is we have not lost any focus on the work we have been doing. The players have been fully committed, giving everything this pre-season in preparation for the league and I am sure our fans are going to see that.
“From the first game onwards every time a player steps on to the pitch they will be one hundred per cent, that’s what our fans expect and that’s what they are going to see.”
ONE TO WATCH – JOTA
The Spaniard was a revelation for Brentford in 2016-17 but managed just five goals and two assists in 32 games for Blues. Said to be looking fit and back to his best under Monk during pre-season though and has shown he’s capable of shining in the Championship before.
REFEREE – PETER BANKES
Showed 159 yellow and eight red cards during 42 games last season. Took charge of City twice, during a 2-1 home loss to Derby and booking seven during the 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Carrow Road in April.
Norwich (4-1-4-1): Krul; Marshall, Hanley, Klose, Husband; Trybull, McLean, Pukki, Leitner, Hernandez; Srbeny.
Birmingham (4-4-2): Trueman; Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen; Jota, Gardner, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma; Jutkiewicz, Adams.