Burnley wont be feeling pressure against Norwich City
Burnley manager Eddie Howe is bracing himself for a tough FA Cup assignment tomorrow – regardless of who Norwich City boss Paul Lambert names in his starting line-up.
The two clubs meet for the first time in the competition at Carrow Road (3pm), with Lambert admitting he may have to juggle his squad again after a busy holiday programme.
But Howe will not be lulled into a false sense of security, even if the Canaries are without some of their Premier League regulars.
“Norwich had a fantastic year last year playing some fantastic football as well,” he said.
“Whatever team they put out – it doesn’t matter if they make a couple of changes – they still have a really strong squad.
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“Look at their bench. It’s full of players who excelled in the Championship.
“We know it’s not going to be easy if they do change their side, even though they have bigger priorities than the FA Cup this year.
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“Whenever you go to Carrow Road you know you’re going to be in for a tough game, especially under Paul Lambert.”
Burnley took four points from City in the Championship last season, including a 2-1 victory at Turf Moor soon after Howe was appointed – following the Clarets’ failed attempt to recruit Lambert as a replacement for the sacked Brian Laws.
Howe knows, however, that the Norwich squad has changed considerably since that February meeting.
“It’s a difficult one to prepare and plan for. We love to do our homework on teams and try to know exactly what we are going to face, but the Norwich team could be anything,” he said.
“They have a very good squad and a lot of players that perhaps haven’t played this year that were in the team that went up last year. But in some senses it’s about what we do and making sure our players know their jobs.
“It will be a really tough assignment for us but one we can go into with a little bit more freedom than perhaps in the league games. It’s a nice little break and a game that we want to win.”
Howe, whose team are on the fringes of the play-off places, is nevertheless keen to enjoy an FA Cup run.
“We want to progress. We want to win the game and we’ll put out a team to try to do that,” said the 34-year-old.
“It’s not the ideal draw for us. It’s a long way to go, but it’s a chance for us to pit our wits against a Premier League club and a side that did very well in the Championship last year.
“It’s the FA Cup. Why would we not want to take it seriously?
“By no means would I devalue the competition or waste our supporters’ money. We’re going to do everything we can to win the game.”
With City bidding to reach the fourth round for only the third time in 15 seasons, Lambert was today expected to give a fitness update on defenders Marc Tierney (groin) and Ritchie de Laet (back), as well as midfielder Andrew Crofts (bug), none of whom saw any action against Fulham or Queens Park Rangers over the New Year weekend.
Just how different the City line-up will be remains to be seen, but it is not inconceivable that youngsters Declan Rudd and George Francomb and little-used seniors such as Adam Drury, Simon Lappin and Aaron Wilbraham will be involved.
Burnley are forced into at least one change with Kieran Trippier serving a one-match ban after a red card in the 2-1 defeat at Leeds.
David Edgar filled in at right-back after Trippier was sent off, and may continue in the role as Michael Duff is rated 50-50.
Striker Sam Vokes, who appeared for City on loan from Wolves last season, is on loan to Burnley until January 15, and may be on the bench if Wolves give permission for him to appear in the competition.