'Make my starting XI'
PUBLISHED: 12:27 18 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:31 14 September 2010
The battle for first-team places hots up as Norwich City's pre-season preparations continue north of the border. The Canaries face Scottish League Division One side Livingston at Almondvale Stadium.
The battle for first-team places hots up tonight as Norwich City's pre-season preparations continue north of the border.
The Canaries face Scottish League Division One side Livingston at Almondvale Stadium (7.30pm) - and their starting line-up could offer a more accurate indication of manager Nigel Worthington's thinking after fielding a different mix and match team in each half of friendly victories over Fakenham Town and Cambridge United.
Before City headed north to Scotland last night - where they also face Falkirk in a friendly on Saturday - Worthington said: “We will look to play eleven for a longer period from now on, but we still have to decide what that eleven will be.”
The number of substitutes City can use tonight has still to be agreed with Livingston and the match official, but Worthington is certainly not short of options after taking his entire senior squad to Scotland.
The only absentees are injured duo Robert Green and Matthieu Louis-Jean, and defender Andrew Cave-Brown, who is on international duty with Scotland Under-19s.
Even with 18 days to go before City's Coca-Cola Championship season kicks off on August 5, six or seven players already look a good bet to start against Leeds, barring injury - goalkeeper Paul Gallacher, defenders Gary Doherty, Jason Shackell and Adam Drury, and forwards Darren Huckerby and Robert Earnshaw, while a fit Youssef Safri would appear favourite for one of the midfield slots.
The big question marks appear to surround who plays at right-back, on the right side of midfield and in one of the striking berths - all positions Worthington has highlighted as top priority as time ticks away in his search for new signings.
But after Saturday's win at Cambridge, he insisted no one was guaranteed his place.
He said: “Everybody's playing for the first eleven shirt, it's as simple as that. Decisions will have to be made and hopefully we'll pick the right team to go to Elland Road and get the result.”
Livingston, who finished bottom of the Scottish Premier League last season with just four wins from 38 games, were beaten 2-1 at Raith Rovers in their latest pre-season match on Saturday. Paul Shields scored a first-half penalty but a blunder by Moroccan triallist goalkeeper Elhad Yassine, formerly of Raja Casablanca, handed the hosts their winning goal.
A new 'keeper is a priority for Lions boss John Robertson with Roddy McKenzie expected to leave, while he has also agreed a one-year loan deal for Hearts defender Jason Thomson, 18.
New signings Scott Mitchell and Daryl Smylie played in both Livingston's pre-season friendlies in Ireland, as did James McPake, who returned from a season on loan at Morton.
Robert Snodgrass and Graham Dorrans have, like City's Cave-Brown, been included in the Scotland Under-19 squad for the UEFA European Under-19 championships to be held in Poznan, Poland, later this month.
Livingston (possible squad) - Yassine, Thomson, MacKay, Miller, Tweed, Scott, Craig, Makel, Shields, Smylie, Mitchell, Davidson, Hislop, Weir, Walker, Monteith.
Norwich City tour squad - Gallacher, Lewis, Colin, Fleming, Spillane, Doherty, Shackell, Halliday, Rossi Jarvis, Drury, Bexfield, Fisk, Henderson, Etuhu, Safri, Robinson, Hughes, Huckerby, McVeigh, Ryan Jarvis, Thorne, Earnshaw, McKenzie, Eagle, El Ouargui.