Canaries captain relishing chance to build commanding partnership with Gibson

Norwich captain Grant Hanley heads clear under pressure

Norwich captain Grant Hanley heads clear under pressure - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City captain Grant Hanley is relishing the chance to build a defensive partnership with ‘top centre-half’ Ben Gibson.

The Scot returned after three months out with a hamstring injury and played alongside the Burnley loanee during the hard fought 2-1 win at Rotherham on Saturday and the dominant 1-0 home win over Birmingham on Tuesday - with Christoph Zimmermann working on a calf problem but expected to soon be back in contention.

“Ben’s a top, top centre-half, it’s great to play with him,” said Hanley. “He’s similar to myself in that he’s very vocal and organising, a great lad as well.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed that last couple of games.”

The 28-year-old had been in good form prior to the Premier League season being suspended in March but hurt his hamstring in a warm-up game at Tottenham and missed all 10 games following lockdown.

“I feel good,” he continued. “I’ve said before with previous injuries that the medical team are first class. I had no doubts in my head, stepping on the pitch on Saturday, that I was ready to go.


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“I feel like I’ve been ready for a couple of weeks now, so physically it’s good. It’s just a big difference between training and getting on a big pitch, so it’s just about sharpening up and distances, all the little things like that.”

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Hanley and Gibson could be facing one of the strongest footballers in the world when Wycombe arrive at Carrow Road on Saturday, with Adebayo Akinfenwa coming off the bench in Wanderers’ last two games after injury.

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The 38-year-old muscle man scored 10 goals in League One last season and has become something of a celebrity for his ‘beast mode’ catchphrase, weighing in at around 16 stone and proving an effective threat for clubs including AFC Wimbledon and Northampton Town.

Gareth Ainsworth’s team have struggled since promotion though, scoring just once in six successive defeats.

“As a defender you always look forward to a battle, especially being a centre-half, but every game is different,” Hanley added with a smile, when asked about Akinfenwa.

“I’m sure we’ll have a plan, that’s what we’ll stick to and we’ll be looking for three points again.”

Birmingham set up defensively and came close to thwarting the Canaries, until Mario Vrancic found the breakthrough in the 87th minute, and Wycombe are likely to try and frustrate Daniel Farke’s team in a similar style.

“You’ve got to remember how tough the league is, the games come thick and fast,” the Scotland international said. “It’s always a quick turnaround so you’ve got to get yourself ready.

“It’s tough, every week you’re playing against an opponent that’s going to be organised and tough to break down, tough to play against. So to put a couple of wins together is big for us at this early stage of the season.”

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