Shocks and hangovers. City boss assesses the threat from Hughton's Reds
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Chris Hughton could do with asking Daniel Farke for the hangover cure that worked wonders after Norwich City's relegation from the Premier League.
His former club had to contend with endless summer transfer speculation and now a prolonged injury crisis into the bargain but have led the Championship in recent times.
Hughton inherited a mess at Nottingham Forest that is taking a while to sort after one point from his past five games. Forest missed out on a play-off place on a bizarre final day last season, and Farke feels that could be the root cause of their current struggles.
The East Midlands club were hammered 4-1 at Stoke City to lose out on sixth spot on goal difference by one goal after Swansea’s identical final day result at Reading.
Hughton brings the Reds to Carrow Road on Wednesday night just two points clear of second from bottom Derby.
“In my head they are competitors for the top six. It is surprising they are in this position,” said Farke. “I wouldn’t label it a shock because that was a tough end to the season and you know in this league it could be a tough start to the new season trying to deal with that.
"I am starting to see a bit of his handwriting now. Chris has so much experience and personality.
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"This team and this coach have the potential to go eight wins in a row. But we are greedy to go back to back ourselves with home wins.
“I don’t judge Nottingham Forest by the current results. I judge them by potential. I look at the distance to them in the table and they are still one of the big competitors for the top six.
"They were one of the best last season and had a heartbreaking end to the season. Maybe there was a bit of a hangover but they have a top class coach. When I think of (Joe) Lolley, (Anthony) Knockaert, (Sammy) Ameobi, (Harry) Arter they are one of the best offensive teams in the league.
"If the coach can bring structure and organisation and you have that individual ability then it is a question of time, not if, they pick up but when.”
Ben Gibson (calf) and Przemyslaw Placheta (hamstring) are the latest additions to Norwich's casualty list with Farke ruling them out for a fortnight. But there was better news around the fitness of Todd Cantwell, with the Dereham ace poised to be part of the matchday squad.
“Todd has been involved in parts of team training since Sunday,” said Farke. “It is probably too soon but this is not a normal situation with injuries.”
To underline Farke’s point, Kenny McLean (knee) and Kieran Dowell (ankle) could also be fast-tracked into City’s plans ahead of the festive battles.
“They have been doing some individual stuff in recent days. Again, like Todd, it would be much too soon for them to return to the matchday squad in normal circumstances,” said the Norwich boss.
“Kenny is maybe 10 days ahead of schedule, Kieran maybe two weeks but he was out for three months. With Jordan (Hugill), the same, we are pushing that a little bit because the advice was to leave it four or five more days.”
Lukas Rupp is poised to miss the next three games with a hamstring issue and Tim Krul is yet to re-join team training after his thigh problem at Stoke.
Farke, however, is urging his squad not to use either the workload or the on going injury problems as easy excuses to drop their levels.
“This is really about sharing the load because the injuries are testing the depth of our squad,” he said. “The most important thing is to keep going and have the right mentality. If you keep telling yourself you are tired then you will feel tired. I tell the lads they will be fine and they have to believe me.
“With Lukas I think we are looking after next Wednesday’s game (at Reading). With Tim it is improving. As soon as he is capable of training with us then it is day by day. But that is not the case right now.”