Farke on his number 10 dilemma

Marco Stiepermann is back in the mix for Norwich City after months on the sidelines

Marco Stiepermann is back in the mix for Norwich City after months on the sidelines - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited

Marco Stiepermann is back but the Norwich City midfielder faces a hot battle to gatecrash the Championship promotion run in.  

Head coach Daniel Farke admits that advanced attacking role between Teemu Pukki is up for grabs, with fit-again Stiepermann jostling with Mario Vrancic, Kieran Dowell and even Lukas Rupp to get the nod. 

Stiepermann was a crucial figure in the previous title-winning push, after forging an impressive double act with Pukki. 

“Marco proved what he can deliver on this level when he was the best number 10 two seasons ago. No doubt,” said Farke. “He almost had this telepathic understanding with Teemu, similar to Emi (Buendia).

"A natural fit to Teemu, who likes to explore the space in behind the last row and play on the shoulder. Marco can save balls and play with his back to goal and win headers. 

“Of course it is an opportunity for him. Even on a good run it is normal everybody still discusses one or two positions in the line up. We have managed quite a lot of clean sheets, so the keeper and the back four is praised a lot.

"When Emi and Teemu are scoring goals, they are in the spotlight, or the central midfielders the same.” 

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Dowell has struggled to get a start since returning from ankle surgery, while Vrancic was given a breather for the 3-0 win over Luton Town. 

“On this level, you sometimes have to accept difficult decisions on personal terms,” said Farke. “To leave (Przemyslaw) Placheta out was difficult as well but that was due to the class of Todd Cantwell. With Kieran, he would like to play but it was for tactical reasons not to have a typical number 10. 

"We had quite an honest conversation about his situation a few days earlier. He is not to blame but the injury disrupted his rhythm. It is not his fault or ours. 

"I am quite happy what I am seeing in training but he is a young player who needs to be in his rhythm to get his confidence up. But you could say it is also so hard to leave out Jacob Sorensen, or for Xavi Quintilla not to even be in the squad. 

“The only thing that matters is the success of the team. A player like Mario is important with his tactical awareness. Maybe he finds it harder to deliver that end product but you must look at the effect he has on the players around him. 

“He doesn’t play like maybe a natural number 10, pretty close to the striker, he drops and allows someone like Kenny McLean more freedom. We have won many, many games with him in that role.” 

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