‘I’ve made some good progress’ – Zimmermann hoping to return in early December for City
Christoph Zimmermann is desperate to be a leader on the pitch again for Norwich City and is counting down the days to his Premier League return – but admits the approaching trip to Everton may come too soon.
The centre-back has been out with ligament damage in his right foot, picked up just 20 minutes into his top-flight debut, after a poorly timed tackle from West Ham striker Sebastien Haller in late August.
Zimmermann had already missed pre-season due to minor summer knee surgery and was making his way back to full fitness, but with fellow central defenders Grant Hanley and Timm Klose out injured, he was back into league action after just 55 minutes of a 1-0 League Cup loss at Crawley Town.
With the 26-year-old remaining sidelined alongside Hanley, who had to get treatment for a long-standing groin issue, since then it has left defensive midfielders Ibrahim Amadou and Alex Tettey to fill in alongside Ben Godfrey during a tough start to the season.
Daniel Farke's team are bottom after nine defeats in 12 games and could have Hanley back in contention for the trip to Everton after the current international break, with the Scot back in training.
Zimmermann has also started joining in with some full training but admits the home game against Arsenal on Sunday, December 1 is likely to be the earliest he will be in contention for.
"I know at the very early stages the manager said that I should be back in January, I've made some good progress and it's been better than expected and therefore we said that December should definitely be possible," said the popular German, who captained City for much of last season's Championship title triumph.
"The way it is at the moment I'm just hoping to be back, the latest possible, in December. So therefore we're playing Arsenal on the 1st, Southampton on the 4th, Sheffield on the 8th, I hope to be in contention for those games because they are going to be massive games for us.
"All teams who are also (rivals) - Sheffield United not at the moment, probably you would have expected them to be but they are doing a fantastic job to be honest - but then Everton and Southampton as well.
"Everton is a bit earlier than that and I would love to be back for that but that's going to be difficult, let's not lie about that, and those are games we need to get points from and avoid that gap becoming bigger and bigger.
"Then again it's not easy, back-to-back defeats, you are thinking a bit too much about games and thinking 'how are we going to win a game?' - but you see Watford coming here and they hadn't won in 11 games, so it is possible.
"Therefore we need to take that and also we shouldn't get too carried away, we didn't do that last season when we were winning, or undefeated for 14 games.
"We know every game we have got a chance to win and if you can beat Man City that shows that at least you've got a chance in every game, if you are at your best, and probably if the opposition is not, to be honest.
"Then you've got a chance to get something from the game and that's what we've got to do. I'm obviously hoping that when I'm back and Grant is back, we can also have an impact on the training pitch with the players and create a good feeling, a good spirit so we can go with confidence into the games, because that's not easy if you've just collected one point from seven games."
Zimmermann was a special guest on the NR1 match-day show on the Canaries' official website, talking to City legends Darren Eadie and Jamie Cureton before and after last Friday's 2-0 home defeat to survival rivals Watford.
He also spoke about his hope, along with Hanley, to add more leadership to Farke's squad during both training and games.
Asked if the younger players needed more experience alongside them, Zimmermann said: "It's not a massive task to keep them grounded because they are quite grounded, more or less everybody in this club is because we know where we've come from and we know that if we are not working hard and we are not grounded, that we cannot think at all that we have no chance and have no right to play on this level.
"Therefore that's not what concerns me, because we have really good guys and really good characters there, but in every game at every level you also need some experience or some guidance.
"Especially for the younger lads but also some players who might be a bit older who it's not naturally in their blood to be a leader on the pitch, it's just because we've got different characters.
"With Timm's injury, Grant's injury and my injury that's three potential leaders who are not available, so that certainly did not make the situation easier for everybody, but especially for the youngsters."