Enter Srbeny? Absence of Rhodes promotes fringe striker to Pukki’s chief deputy against Owls
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Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke will have to make one change to his matchday squad against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, as striker Jordan Rhodes is ineligible.
The loanee can’t face his parent club, just as in November when he had to sit out City’s 4-0 victory at Hillsborough, when Teemu Pukki scored a brace and Dennis Srbeny was also on target as a substitute.
Rhodes has continued to provide the main competition for Pukki, as the Finn has enjoyed a fantastic campaign, scoring 27 league goals and being named Championship Player of the Season.
Having to dip out comes at a frustrating time for the 29-year-old though, having been part of a triple change alongside Mo Leitner and Mario Vrancic in the 76th minute on Sunday, helping salvage a 1-1 draw at Wigan.
The former Huddersfield forward has six goals in 34 league matches to his name, as well as three goals in four cup games courtesy of a hat-trick at Wycombe in the League Cup.
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It’s not quite happened for Rhodes this season, with his last league start being a 1-0 home win over Brentford in late October, during Pukki’s only short injury stint of the season – missing three games with a hamstring stain.
Ever since the Owls loanee has had to make do with cameos from the bench, but been valued by City fans for his efforts, scoring a vital late equaliser at West Brom and adding a positive attacking force in the last two matches, going so close to sealing a win with a header during last week’s 2-2 draw with Reading at Carrow Road.
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Rhodes’ absence puts Srbeny as the main striker option on the bench. The German has had to be even more patient, starting five cup games and scoring a fine brace in a 3-1 win at Cardiff but with all of his 14 league games being, mostly brief, substitute appearances.
The enforced change also requires a homegrown-qualified player to fill the required quota of seven, in Rhodes’ absence.
Tim Krul, Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Todd Cantwell and Grant Hanley fill six of those roles but it looks likely that one of fit-again duo Louis Thompson or Carlton Morris will return among the substitutes.
While striker Morris looks unlikely after his injury woes, Thompson could make the bench rather midfield heavy – with both completing 90 minutes for the U23s last Friday.
Another option open to Farke would be to name U23 keeper Aston Oxborough ahead of Michael McGovern, to tick the homegrown box, allowing him to name one of Alex Tettey, Felix Passlack or Philip Heise on the bench, or even Republic of Ireland U21 striker Adam Idah.
With seven substitutes allowed these days, it’s not a huge cause for concern for City, but it certainly moves Srbeny up the pecking order as cover for star man Pukki.
The 24-year-old has shown flashes of exciting ability since arriving from Paderborn in January 2018 in a deal reportedly worth £1.3million, having scored nine goals in 13 games in the German third tier that season.
His career is yet to take off in England but if City need a goal against the Owls on Friday, with valuable promotion points on the line, Srbeny could well find himself in the thick of the action all of a sudden.