STARTING XIs: City make three changes but Cantwell still not involved at Boro

Jordan Hugill returns to Norwich City's starting line-up against former club Middlesbrough Picture:

Jordan Hugill returns to Norwich City's starting line-up against former club Middlesbrough Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City have made three changes to their starting XI at Middlesbrough, with Ben Gibson and Lukas Rupp returning as expected.

Jordan Hugill starts up front against his hometown club, where he spent 2018-19 on loan from West Ham, with Teemu Pukki on the bench after his international exploits with Finland.

Gibson replaces Christoph Zimmermann in central defence and Rupp comes in for Kenny McLean in midfield, who was away with Scotland, with both players dropping to the bench.

Todd Cantwell was expected to return after training all week after his ankle issue but misses out with a late knock.

The game is the first since EFL clubs voted to allow nine substitutes to be named and five to be brought on, to try and help avoid injuries during the compressed schedule due to the season starting a month later than planned.


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That sees academy midfielder Reece McAlear included on the bench as well as, strangely, a second substitute goalkeeper, with youngster Daniel Barden alongside Michael McGovern - suggesting Cantwell had dropped out of the squad at late notice.

The Canaries are unbeaten in seven after a 1-0 home win over Swansea prior to the international break, with their sights set on a place in the top two after Reading’s 4-2 loss at Bournemouth in the early kick-off.

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Grant Hanley (hamstring) and Max Aarons (concussion) are also fine for action despite not joining up with the Scotland and England Under-21 squads respectively following the Swansea game.

However, talented youngsters Bali Mumba and Adam Idah have been ruled out for around 10 weeks with knee injuries and with Xavi Quintilla missing a fifth game with a his hip issue at left-back, Mumba’s absence is particularly unhelpful - so Jacob Sorensen continues as emergency cover for a fifth game.

They join full-back Sam Byram (hamstring), midfielder Kieran Dowell (ankle) and winger Onel Hernandez (groin) in the treatment room, who are hoping to return in January after surgeries on their injuries.

Boro only make two changes, with George Saville returning in central midfield in place of Lewis Wing, with Marcus Tavernier pushing into attacking midfield, where Marvin Johnson replaces Hayden Coulson on the wing.

Boro are seventh and unbeaten in 10, with Neil Warnock winning Manager of the Month for October after his side conceded just one goal in their last seven games.

They have former Canaries players Jonny Howson and Patrick Roberts in their squad, with centre-back Grant Hall and Northern Ireland midfielder Saville available again after injury and family reasons respectively.

Former Sunderland forward Duncan Whatmore has joined on a short-term deal as he continues trying to rebuild his career after injury problems and is on the bench but young attacking midfielder Marcus Browne misses out with a hamstring strain.

Boro (4-2-3-1): Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair, Bola; Saville, Howson (C); Spence, Tavernier, Johnson; Akpom. Subs: Stojanovic (GK), Wood, Hall, Coulson, Wing, Folarin Roberts, Watmore, Assombalonga

Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Sorensen; Skipp, Rupp; Buendia, Stiepermann, Placheta, Hugill. Subs: McGovern (GK), Barden (GK), Zimmermann, Tettey, McLean, McAlear, Vrancic, Martin, Pukki

Referee: Tony Harrington

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