BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Top class Teemu set for a special City landmark
PUBLISHED: 11:10 31 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 31 August 2019
Given the alarming rate Norwich City’s central defensive stocks are dwindling Daniel Farke might need Teemu Pukki to do him a turn at the back.
The head coach told a revealing anecdote on Friday about the type of unassuming character spearheading the Canaries push for Premier League survival, as he prepared for his landmark 50th appearance for the club.
A fresh setback for Grant Hanley following on from the expected gloomy forecast surrounding Timm Klose's knee layoff left Farke looking for some light relief at Colney.
"I have praised Teemu a lot. I am never scared if we praise him too much he loses the ground under his feet. He is a calm personality," he said. "That is my feeling why he is delivering over a longer period.
"He is not carried away by one or two good performances and all the headlines. He just keeps going, with hard work, so modest, and thinking about the club and his team mates.
"For example, we had a conversation about when he is due back from his national team from the Euro 2020 qualifiers. His last game for Finland is on the Sunday evening. He asked me when he has to come back and I said, 'maybe if you get a flight on Monday morning you don't have to attend training, but in the afternoon we can go again on the pitch' and he replied, 'okay, no problem.'
"I had to tell him that Monday is probably a day off for him and to come back a bit later. He would come in if I said, 'take a flight Sunday evening or drive by car to be here at 8am on Monday for a tough training session.' This says enough about his character."
Hanley, however, is unlikely to join up with Scotland after tweaking a groin.
"I don't think it is possible. He was not able to run. Let's wait for the results of what the scans say," said the City chief, who has Christoph Zimmermann to call upon after recovering from his own midweek injury scare.
"Grant injured himself in our last session. We hope it is not too bad but he had to cut short his training. His first call up for a while was a reward for how he had come back into our side but I think it will be very difficult for him to be involved.
"Christoph is available. That is good news. He got a hit against his back and felt his hip. For one or two days he felt a bit sore but he was back on the training pitch on Friday."
Alex Tettey and Josip Drmic are also in the mix to face a West Ham side packed with expensive talent under the well-travelled Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini.
"Top class club. Top class side. They signed a lot of quality and a lot of good choices in the transfer market," said Farke. "During his working life he was involved at big clubs and always delivered. He has won things and I am full of respect. He knows how to lead.
"You look at the attack and they have many top players and a good balance. They might not have the opportunities for the top two or three in the league but there is a lot of ambition.
"We are respectful but not scared. We created chances against two of the best sides in the league and we will try to have those spells in this game. They lost to Manchester City 5-0 but I was a bit reminded about our Liverpool game.
"It was never a 5-0.
"They were pretty close to a decent result. There were many late goals and any side can lose to that club by that score. I expected them to bounce back and they have."