Smith weighs up City options after Rashica setback

Christos Tzolis is one of the options at Tottenham to replace the injured Milot Rashica

Christos Tzolis is one of the options at Tottenham to replace the injured Milot Rashica - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Let battle commence is Dean Smith’s mantra in the race to replace the injured Milot Rashica, after the Norwich City flyer was ruled out until Christmas. 

Rashica misses the Premier League trip to Tottenham on Sunday with a groin issue likely to sideline him ‘three to four weeks’. 

Christos Tzolis got the nod for the Kosovan international at Newcastle, but Todd Cantwell is back in the mix after he missed out on Tyneside due to a Covid contact issue. 

Smith feels he has options, but admits losing Rashica is a blow. 

“We've got players that we feel can fill the void. Now there's opportunities for others to step up,” he said. “We felt it was just a slight groin, but he's had a scan and it's a little bit more significant. It is a blow. 

"He has certainly got the ability to play anywhere across the front three. I probably see his best position in a wide area, and speaking to him he would see that as his best position as well. But he's a goal threat.  

“He hadn't got his first goal yet for Norwich, but it will come soon once he is back from fitness.

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"I've seen enough of him at Werder Bremen to know there is goalscorer there, not just a goalscorer but one who is going to create as well.” 

NCFC Extra: Team news for Tottenham v Norwich City

Tzolis failed to convince at St James’ Park before he was substituted at the interval, but Smith can see the potential in the Greek teenager. 

“There's always going to be an adaptation period for a young player like Christos,” said the City chief . “I gave him that start and he had a couple of attempts but during the game I just felt we need a little bit more from our wide players. 

"Christos understood that. We trained the following day and he trained really well. He's just getting used to what myself and Shakey (Craig Shakespeare)  are asking of him.

"He's another young lad with bags of potential that'll get better.  

“We've also got (Pzemyslaw) Placheta who has showed up in training really well. We’ve got Todd coming back, plus Kieran (Dowell) who I have not seen loads of because when I came here, he had a Covid related issue.

"We have the options there that we can go and play and you know and those lads in training I cannot fault the effort and application. 

"Todd had a close contact and we just thought it was too risky (for Newcastle) until he had had a PCR. He's clear now so we're happy for him to be training with us.”