Away days nightmare
Chris Lakey Norwich City face the prospect of two marathon trips to the south coast in the space of four days if they can get past League Two side Bury in their FA Cup replay next week.
Norwich City face the prospect of two marathon trips to the south coast in the space of four days if they can get past League Two side Bury in their FA Cup replay next week.
If City get through a tricky third round rematch at Gigg Lane they will travel to Southampton on Saturday, January 26 - before making the 400-mile round trip again, for a Championship game the following Tuesday.
Should City progress, they will face a total of five away trips during January - and an away tie was just what manager Glenn Roeder didn't want, particularly as it comes in the midst of a sequence of fixtures against some of City's closest relegation rivals.
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This weekend's trip to Barnsley is followed a week later by Leicester at home, the double against Southampton, a home game against Preston and then a trip to Cardiff - and Roeder will be keeping his fingers crossed that injuries and fatigue don't hinder the battle against the drop.
While Roeder may be less than enamoured with the prospect of an away draw, Saints manager George Burley was delighted.
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“I said after the win on Saturday that we wanted a home draw - and we have got our wish,” he said.
“We have to wait to see who we actually play, but we will be at home to a team either in the same league or below so the chance is there for us to get through to the last 16.
“It means we could be playing Norwich twice in a couple of days and it is amazing how often that seems to happen but it is a decent draw. The Cup always brings a bit of excitement and hopefully we can get through.”
Previous history isn't on City's side - in 45 trips to Southampton they have won just five times, most recently on New Year's Day in 1994, when Chris Sutton scored the only goal of the game.
The teams have met twice in the FA Cup, Southampton winning 2-0 in a fifth round clash in 2003, and then going through 2-1 at Carrow Road in a sixth round replay after a goalless draw at The Dell.
More recently, City beat Southampton 2-1 in their opening home fixture of the current season, Jamie Cureton getting both goals as City came from behind to claim the points.
There will be no City reunion with former midfield star, Youssef Safri, who joined the Morocco squad for the African Cup of Nations after their third round victory over Leicester at the weekend.
t Tickets for next Tuesday's replay at Bury (7.45pm) are on general sale, priced at £14 for adults, £10 for 16-21 years old, £7 for over-60s and under-1s6. There is a special ticket for one adult and one under-16, priced £15.
t FULL DRAW
Arsenal v Stoke City or Newcastle
Coventry v Walsall or Millwall
Oldham Athletic v Huddersfield Town
Swindon Town or Barnet v Fulham or Bristol Rovers
Wigan Athletic v Chelsea
Luton Town or Liverpool v Swansea City or Havant & Waterlooville
Southend United v Barnsley
Southampton v Norwich City or Bury
Manchester United v Tottenham or Reading
Portsmouth v Plymouth
Derby or Sheffield Wednesday v Preston
Watford v Wolves
Peterborough v Charlton or West Brom
Sheffield United v West Ham or Manchester City
Mansfield v Middlesborough
Tranmere or Hereford v Cardiff