Who replaces Normann? The key decisions Dean Smith faces ahead of Newcastle
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Dean Smith will have to find a remedy to Mathias Normann's absence as Norwich City head to Newcastle United on Tuesday evening.
The Norwegian international will miss the bottom of the table clash with the winless Magpies after a reoccurrence of the pelvic injury that has been plaguing him since he signed for City this summer.
Ozan Kabak doesn't look set for a recall to the matchday squad despite another full week of training after his glandular fever diagnosis. Smith's favoured duo of Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson have been impressive in the opening two matches of the City boss' reign.
Christoph Zimmermann remains on the road to recovery but is now off crutches after his surgery for an ankle injury in October. Sam Byram is the only other absentee, but the right-back completed 71 minutes during the U23s 5-0 thrashing of Wolves on Monday.
Here are some of the key selection decisions facing Smith ahead of the game.
Few players have been as influential as Mathias Normann for Norwich City this season.
The Norwegian holding midfielder has impressed since completing his loan move from Russian side Rostov in the summer. Despite his deep-lying midfield position, he has influenced games with his long-range passing and shots from distance.
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Many would describe him as City's best player to date during this campaign, but the pelvic issue has been constant throughout the course of this season.
Normann has gone to visit a specialist in the hope of resolving it sooner rather than later, but will miss the Canaries' crunch clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday evening.
That will likely present an opportunity for Lukas Rupp, who impressed during a bright 55-minute cameo from the bench during Saturday's goalless draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The German created two key chances for City and should have scored himself when Milot Rashica picked him out inside the area.
Smith described Rupp as a player who possessed 'good knowledge' during his pre-match press conference and looks poised to hand the 30-year-old a chance to impress at St James' Park.
That is likely to bring Jacob Sorensen onto the bench, with City's chief keen to laud the Dane and Pierre Lees-Melou for their efforts in training.
Creativity of Cantwell?
For as long as Todd Cantwell isn't in the starting line-up, there will continue to be a conversation around whether he should be.
This was the first press conference in several weeks that a City head coach hasn't been asked about the talented 23-year-old. Smith's most recent words on the attacking midfielder were wholeheartedly positive.
Josh Sargent offers plenty of endeavour and tireless running, but lacks the technical qualities that Cantwell possesses in abundance.
That is the trade-off Smith and his assistant Craig Shakespeare will be weighing up in the weeks and months ahead as they plot a route to Premier League survival for the Canaries.
For now, given the off the ball structure they want to implement which includes pressing teams higher up the pitch, it seems likely that Cantwell will have to display patience.
But Smith is aware of what he can offer and will be utilising his talents as the season develops.
Norwich City (4-3-3): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (c), Gibson, Williams; Gilmour, Rupp, McLean; Sargent, Rashica; Pukki
Subs: Gunn (GK), Omobamidele, Giannoulis, Lees-Melou, Sorensen, Cantwell, Dowell, Tzolis, Idah