Connor Southwell: McGovern is a man with a point to prove for Canaries

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 October 2019

The injured Ralf Fahrmann was replaced in goal by Michael McGovern for Norwich City after Palace had taken the lead with a penalty Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The injured Ralf Fahrmann was replaced in goal by Michael McGovern for Norwich City after Palace had taken the lead with a penalty Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

With an injury epidemic seeing off more Norwich City casualties, our Canaries' correspondent Connor Southwell analyses the options for Daniel Farke ahead of the visit from Aston Villa on Saturday.

When Norwich City's official channels announced that McGovern had put pen to paper on a new deal at Carrow Road, many supporters were left asking the same question - why?

Hindsight is a glorious tool, especially given the current situation the Canaries find themselves in due to an injury epidemic. McGovern was retained due to his professionalism, his skill as a cultural architect valued deeply by those overseeing proceedings at Colney and beyond.

Now, the Northern Ireland international finds himself in a unique position as he is primed to start in goal for Saturday's encounter against Aston Villa.

His stint against Crystal Palace marked his Premier League debut, something he will reflect upon after retirement with great pride.

Will Billy Johnson be the man Daniel Farke turns to for cover against Aston Villa on Saturday? 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesWill Billy Johnson be the man Daniel Farke turns to for cover against Aston Villa on Saturday? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

He hasn't started a league game since April 2017 in the 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town and with Ralf Fahrmann and Tim Krul looking set to be ruled out of the Carrow Road clash, head coach Daniel Farke will turn to McGovern to fill the position for the foreseeable future.

Selhurst Park provided the backdrop for McGovern's Premier League introduction - now Farke will be hoping the keeper can replicate the level of performance he displayed for his country against Germany in that heroic Euro 2016 performance.

Personality is valued at the club currently. Last season, after triumphant victories or crushing defeats, McGovern would be the first to celebrate or console those XI on the pitch. That graphically illustrates the influence he holds on a young dressing room, a respect that extends beyond the traditional goalkeepers' union.

In terms of quality, McGovern accepts his understudy duty with integrity, knowing his contribution is as pertinent off the pitch as it is on it.

Norwich City keeper Ralf Fahrmann's Premier League debut was cut short by injury at Crystal Palace 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesNorwich City keeper Ralf Fahrmann's Premier League debut was cut short by injury at Crystal Palace Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Now, he's being thrust onto a global platform for a team with an underdog tag swinging around its neck.

Opportunity knocks for the shot stopper who, if he can tidy his distribution, could grasp that chance with both hands.

Given the absence of the two senior goalkeepers, there's a chance for a player chomping at the bit to prove his worth. McGovern has served City with modesty but now it's a case of whether he can, for one or two fixtures, show his character between the sticks.

His last two seasons have been limited to EFL and FA Cup games, with substitute appearances aplenty.

With that in mind, perhaps this is a situation even McGovern hadn't envisaged upon signing his new deal last summer.

At Palace, his distribution was a source of constant frustration for defender Ben Godfrey and contrasted to the patient construction from the back that is associated with Farke's philosophy. It remains to be seen whether City's boss elects to alter the dynamic of his side to counter the long kicks or whether McGovern himself is coached differently this week.

Another conundrum arrives in the form of who provides the back-up option should the unthinkable happen, which given the scale of their current injury crisis, isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

With Aston Oxborough out on loan to Conference North side Wealdstone and the fact that loan deals are now run window to window, Norwich will have to rely on a youngster currently within in their ranks.

U23 boss David Wright was coy on talk about who will occupy the bench for City on Saturday should Fahrmann's injury keep him out of action although seemingly leading the way as an option is Scottish goalkeeper Archie Mair. Mair only joined City from Aberdeen in the summer and has been the number one for Wright's side in both EFL Trophy and Premier League 2 competition.

He has also represented Scotland youth sides, recently being capped for the U19 squad as well as turning out for his country's U17 and U18 sides.

Or does Farke seek an older, more experienced operator in the form of Nick Hayes, ex-Ipswich Town youth prospect or Norfolk lad Billy Johnson? Hayes was involved in first team target practice in Germany during pre-season, acting as cannon fodder for the Canaries' strikeforce who peppered him from close range.

Farke described the goalkeeping situation as his 'smallest concern' on Friday. In light of Fahrmann's absence, it remains to be seen whether it has leapt up the list of worries held by City's boss ahead of his 100th Norwich match against Aston Villa.

Prolonging McGovern's stay now seems like an act of wisdom but even the meticulous nature of City's sporting director Stuart Webber couldn't have foreseen a situation like this arising.

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