‘It’s good we have many options’ - City defender relishing battle for starting roles
The arrival of Ben Gibson has cranked up the competition between Norwich City’s centre-backs and Christoph Zimmermann admits an addition was clearly needed after last season’s injury woes.
Grant Hanley, Timm Klose and Zimmermann all missed chunks of City’s relegation campaign in the Premier League but Ben Godfrey, Klose and Zimmermann have all played a full part in preparations for the Championship.
Hanley is closing on a return and while Klose went off with a dead leg during Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Luton in the League Cup first round, Godfrey is set to return from England Under-21 duty to ensure Daniel Farke has options for the league opener at Huddersfield on Saturday.
“On paper, we might even have a better squad than last season,” Zimmermann said. “If you look at the two Bens, with Timm, Grant will hopefully be back quite quickly as well, and we still have Akin (Famewo) to come back from injury.
“We’ve got quite a lot of competition for those two spaces in the centre-half position, I think that’s what you want as a manager and as a player, to know you need to play well or you might not play for the next five or six weeks.
“We didn’t have towards the end of last season and I think given the injuries of our centre-halves in the last season, it’s good we have many options on that position, because some games we ended up playing Alex Tettey or Ibrahim Amadou, two holding midfielders, in a position that shouldn’t really happen going into this year.
“So I think it’s smart that we strengthened this area on the pitch because we have loads of options in the midfield, many options up front and now many options in the centre of the defence as well.”
Knee, ankle and hamstring injuries restricted the 27-year-old German to 16 league starts last season but he’s hopeful those problems are now behind him.
“I’ve been struggling since more or less after the Liverpool game, which was mid-February, my hamstring was not in a good place and that was almost seven months ago now,” he added.
“I have not played much football since then. We’ve been trying so many things, different injections and seeing different specialists to get it right. In a very good way, those problems are more or less sorted.”