Missed flights, late nights and more injuries. How is your luck, Daniel?
The transfer window is one thing. But you sense the international break caused Daniel Farke a bigger headache in preparing Norwich City for a league trip to Rotherham.
Farke’s frustration was clear on Friday at the lack of time he had with many of his international contingent at Colney prior to resuming Championship hostilities.
“I have one day on the training pitch with them. The only positive is all their Covid test results have come back negative and they seem fit and in a good mood,” he said. “Five of my players were away until Thursday. (Teemu) Pukki and (Adam) Idah played on Wednesday evening in Finland.
“It is never easy to sleep after a game and their flight back was 6am the following morning, so you can imagine what time they had to get up in order to come back to London. Then another two hours to Norwich and we now have to travel to Rotherham.
“The same for Kenny McLean, Max Aarons, Oliver Skipp.
“Tim Krul missed a flight in Italy because of problems with traffic and he arrived back in the middle of the night on Thursday.”
Farke’s reference to testing protocols is not only a nod to the new reality but also the saga involving Idah, who was ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off defeat.
The teenage frontman was deemed a ‘close contact’ of a backroom member who it turned out had returned a ‘false positive’ test.
Idah came back to his club only to link up with the Irish again for a bit part role in their Nations League defeat in Finland.
“I don’t want to accuse anyone and of course it is a situation where you have to be unbelievably careful,” said Farke. “I was not happy with all the travelling. It was difficult for him. First he had to isolate, then fly back, didn’t spend much time on the training pitch, then returns and plays a few minutes in Finland.
“Then a very early flight back from Finland so not an easy time for Adam, and we have spoken about this topic. We have tested him twice this week and both tests were negative.
“It is tricky why we allow all these international games during this pandemic. You can see many players struggling with Covid. I would question it.”
The City chief sought to allay any fears Pukki’s toe infection, reported by the Finnish FA and which alsorequired an injection prior to the last league game against Derby, is a cause for concern.
“I think the information was a bit confusing. Finland had a friendly and he is a superstar there so maybe they had to find a reason why he wasn’t going to play,” said his club boss. “He played both competitive games, had two assists and looked in great shape. I think he could have played the friendly.
“He had a little infection that came up on the morning of the Derby game. He felt a bit uncomfortable so we had the chance to give him some pain killers or a little injection in his toe.
“Not a massive problem. He had this one or two years ago.”
Defender Christoph Zimmermann is ruled out today with a calf issue, which is set to offer Grant Hanley a route back to the starting line up.
“We can’t take any risks with him. If it was the Champions League final maybe,” said Farke. “We want to make sure he misses one game, not three or four weeks.
“Our physios say he should be available for the game on Tuesday.
“Grant has been back in team training over four weeks, he is in good shape and prepared.”
Przemyslaw Placheta is back in the mix but not an option to start after his hamstring issues over the international break but the Pole’s return is timely with fellow wide player Onel Hernandez ruled out until January following surgery on an adductor complaint.
“A big blow,” said Daniel Farke. “We felt in the offence we have improved the squad but with Kieran (Dowell) out for three months we needed Onel, who can be massive on this level. He was crucial for our success in the title winning season. After the last game he was moaning about problems in his adductor.
“We had different scans and he went to see a specialist in London who detected some damage that needed surgery.
“Since I work here at Norwich there are some injuries I have never heard of. It is unbelievable. I hope to have him back in January and it is a chance for others to shine.
“Przemyslaw was out for two and a half weeks but back on the training pitch since Weds. Not ready for 90 minutes. An option from the bench because with his pace he can change a game.”