Paddy Davitt verdict: Drama is in this Norwich City’s DNA
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:11 15 July 2019
Few do drama better than this Norwich City squad. What should in theory have been a gentle pre-season opener turned into a spicy tale of injury scares, robust challenges, a red card, and some encouraging signs from new faces.
Ben Godfrey's early first half exit in Sunday's 2-2 friendly draw against Arminia Bielefeld with a rolled ankle, and his departure from the ground in Gutersloh on crutches wearing a protective boot, was the headline act.
The final verdict in the hours ahead, following medical scans on his damaged left ankle, could have far-reaching ramifications for the start of the Premier League season.
Daniel Farke cut a worried figure at the final whistle. He is already without Christoph Zimmermann for the opening night league trip to Anfield following knee surgery.
Timm Klose is also not expected to be available until the return to England next week, as he tries to fully overcome the knee issue that blighted the second half of City's Championship title-winning success.
Throw in another frustrating episode for the luckless Louis Thompson, who departed 20 minutes into this 2-2 draw against the Bundesliga 2 promotion hopefuls with a hamstring injury, plus fresh fitness concerns around the likes of Alex Tettey, Mario Vrancic and Todd Cantwell and there was an underlying sense of frustration at the final whistle.
Far more so than might have been expected from Jomaine Consbruch's 86th minute equaliser after first half strikes from Dennis Srbeny and Josip Drmic had cancelled out Reinhold Yabo's opener.
Joan Simun Edmundsson's first half red card for the Germans, following two rash lunges on Emi Buendia, rendered this a lop-sided contest. But there was some intriguing cameos from Drmic and Patrick Roberts.
The Swiss international slotted a cool penalty, no mean feat after last season's anaemia from the penalty spot, but in general play also looked to possess intelligent movement and an eye for goal.
Manchester City loanee Roberts showed flashes of his ability in tight spaces and glimpses of a burgeoning understanding with Buendia, who appears to have spent a lot of his summer recess in the gym, judging by muscular changes to his upper body. Roberts' was denied by a flying save and his corner indirectly led to Drmic's spot-kick success, when Kenny McLean's flick brushed the hand of Brian Behrendt.
Even after Consbruch's late leveller, Norwich still had chances to snatch a win. Onel Hernandez smacked a half-volley wide from the edge of the area before Teemu Pukki struck a post and Marco Stiepermann was twice foiled by the Arminia keeper.
But the result was largely immaterial in the grand scheme of things.
Especially given this was Bielefeld's fourth game of the close season against a squad having their first hit out since that memorable title-clinching victory at Villa Park.
If pre-season is an exercise in attaining fitness then part of that balancing act is also the avoidance of injuries. Right now, it would seem City is being tested in that regard; particularly at centre back.
Grant Hanley finished this friendly as the only fit and available senior centre back on the books. That is a huge worry that will be magnified if the outcome of Godfrey's medical scans is gloomy.
Farke was perhaps stating the obvious to suggest it might require a foray into the transfer market should Norwich have serious problems at the heart of their backline for the punishing Premier League opening run of fixtures.
Jamal Lewis was forced to switch infield and Philip Heise got his first outing in a Norwich shirt at left-back, following the departures of Thompson and Godfrey. That might suffice when it comes to Bundesliga 2 opposition or any of the remaining pre-season tests.
It will not cut it against Liverpool's fearsome attacking arsenal.