Can City halt Ayew?
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Halting Swansea City dangerman Andre Ayew is key for Norwich City at Carrow Road. But first Daniel Farke has to work out who is available for the job.
The Canaries’ boss revealed on Friday two of the back four who started the midweek Championship draw against Millwall, Ben Gibson and Jacob Sorensen, are fitness doubts with muscular problems related to the heavy recent workload.
While Farke appeared to rule out first-choice left-back Xavi Quintilla for the fourth game in a row with the hip issue that prompted Sorensen’s conversion to an emergency full-back.
City’s recent exertions leave Farke sweating on the availability of some key personnel for what he labels the ‘spotlight’ game of the the weekend at Carrow Road.
“The team in third versus the team in second, who finished in the top six last season. One of our biggest opponents to finish in a good position this season,” said Farke. “Definitely one of the favourites for the top positions.
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“Yes, Ayew is a key player. An outstanding player and one of the key topics to control Swansea is to control him. But they also have other strengths so it would be too simple just to concentrate on him.
“They have some very good offensive players. Lots of quality but a good spirit.
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“They work with focus and concentration and I like the mindset. You have to be respectful of what they have done there in the last years.”
The Swans appear to have added a layer of steel to supplement an attacking spearhead led by Ayew under highly rated coach Steve Cooper.
Former Norwich defender Ryan Bennett is now in the mix alongside one-time loanee Kyle Naughton.
Only Huddersfield have managed to score more than once against the Welsh side in a Championship game this season.
“One topic for sure is we have to be brutal, focused and clinical,” said Farke. “When you play these teams you are not only expected to score in a one against one with the keeper. It has to be from 12, 14, 16 yards. Then, like at Bristol (City), after we scored early we created better chances because we opened the game up.
“I haven’t met him personally but I have followed his career closely in the past two years or so and you get the feeling they are growing from month to month as a club.
“It is not a surprise to me they are in this position, playing fantastic football.
“He also gives many younger players a chance, but experienced players like Ayew can shine under him. That is a good sign. You can see his handwriting on the side.”