City boss reveals his major fear ahead of Boro test
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Daniel Farke’s powers of persuasion do not stretch to convincing his international contingent Norwich City’s Championship trip to Middlesbrough is the be all and end all.
City will aim to pick up where they left off after a seven-match unbeaten run swept them into the recent international pause on a high.
But with many of their key men clocking up the miles, on and off the pitch around Europe, Farke hopes they have enough in the tank for Teesside.
The Canaries will not lack for motivation but the mental and physical toll is harder to quantify.
“For us, this game is a bit more complicated because I doubt any other club sent more internationals away,” said the City boss. “When I think about many of those players they had three matches in some cases.
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“Teemu Pukki had three games and in the last one Finland had a man sent off early. So if I am to tell him two days after coming back he has the most important game in the world he wouldn’t believe me.
“He looked sharp but I nearly died when they got that red card because I knew he would have to work even harder. He came back looking like a ghost. He was very pale so I hope two nights rest is enough to recover.
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“The same for Tim Krul. He was Holland’s number one. Or for Przemyslaw Placheta.
“He makes his Polish debut alongside a world class player like Robert Lewandowski, so he is hardly going to believe me if I say the real stuff starts at Middlesbrough. That is why we have to find a good balance for this game.
“Those lads have probably not had a day off in four weeks. It is not just the physical but the mental load.”
To that end, Farke welcomed the Football League’s decision in recent days, prompted by clubs, to allow 20-man matchday squads and five substitutions.
“A good decision. Definitely,” he said. “I wouldn’t have complained if we had gone further on with the old rules, and we wouldn’t use it as an excuse. But it was hard not to understand why we didn’t adopt this before the season.
“We had no real pre-season or summer break and now more games in a shorter period. You have to think about the players.
“For me, maybe this is 11 games too late. We have several injured players for this game so it might be tough to fill 20 places. I wouldn’t analyse it too much and say it is an advantage for the clubs with bigger squads.
“I would have said the same if we were still in the Premier League.”
Bali Mumba and Adam Idah have been added to City’s longer-term sick list after picking up knee ligament injuries.
Xavi Quintilla (hip) remains sidelined but Todd Cantwell, Lukas Rupp and Ben Gibson trained this week after sitting out the Swans’ win.
Farke knows the wily Neil Warnock will be sensing an opportunity, with Boro conceding only one goal in the past seven games to make steady progress up the Championship standings.
“Both teams have not conceded many so maybe we get a 5-5. That is why we love this game because it is unpredictable but I expect a game where we have to be unbelievably patient and efficient,” he said.
“To concede once in seven games says a lot about their style and how difficult it is to break them down. “They have momentum like we do. We have to be switched on and to be brutal when we have a chance to finish.”