STARTING XIs: Pukki missing for City as Barden starts at Cardiff
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Young goalkeeper Daniel Barden makes his first league start for Norwich City and top scorer Teemu Pukki is missing for the Championship leaders at Cardiff this afternoon.
The Canaries face a Cardiff side that they beat 2-0 at Carrow Road just under a month ago, thanks to goals from Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell, who have since slipped into mid-table.
The visitors are without a host of players though, with Tim Krul and Adam Idah finishing periods of isolation after positive Covid-19 tests - and Pukki dropping out late with a side strain.
Jordan Hugill, who scored his second goal of the season in the FA Cup last weekend starts up front in Pukki's place with youngster Tyrese Omotoye the cover on the bench, with City only naming seven of their allowed nine substitutions.
Krul's absence continues 20-year-old Barden's recent emergence, replacing the injured Michael McGovern at half-time of a 1-1 home league draw with QPR at the end of last year.
That was the Wales U19 international's first league action, having made his debut in the League Cup loss at Luton at the start of the campaign when Krul and McGovern were on international duty.
Krul returned from a nine-game absence with a thigh injury for the 1-0 home league win over Barnsley but then missed last Saturday's 2-0 home win over Coventry in the FA Cup due to his positive Covid-19 test, with Barden impressing as he made several important saves.
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In outfield terms, Daniel Farke largely reverts to the starting XI which beat Barnsley, with Buendia, Cantwell and Mario Vrancic in attacking support of Hugill.
Full-backs Bali Mumba and Xavi Quintilla, who started against Coventry, have since also tested positive and are now in isolation - as are five members of City's backroom team.
Christoph Zimmermann came off at half-time of that game with a hip issue and is set for a short-term absence, while midfielders Lukas Rupp and Josh Martin miss out with flu symptoms and Marco Stiepermann is recovering from virus.
Otherwise, full-back Sam Byram is hoping to return to full team training this month after almost a year out due to two hamstring surgeries and goalkeeper McGovern is set to miss much of the rest of this season with a hamstring injury.
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Cardiff have lost their last four games, including a 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round last weekend, and make three changes to the team which started their 2-1 loss at Wycombe in their last league game.
The Bluebirds announced horrible news in midweek, with defender Sol Bamba diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and starting chemotherapy - with the 36-year-old regularly on the bench so far this season, coming on for just five appearances.
Eight-goal top scorer Kieffer Moore has missed the last five matches with a hamstring injury but the Wales international and former Ipswich striker returns to the bench.
Right-back Jordi Osei-Tutu is not ready to return after over two months out with a hamstring injury and experienced defenders Sean Morrison (ankle), Aden Flint (hamstring) and Greg Cunningham (illness) are all out, with creative midfielder Lee Tomlin (groin) and striker Isaac Vassell (thigh) the long-term absentees.
NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Barden; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Sorensen; Skipp, McLean; Buendia, Vrancic, Cantwell; Hugill. Subs: McCracken (GK), Omobamidele, Tettey, Dowell, Hernandez, Placheta, Omotoye
CARDIFF (4-2-3-1): Smithies; Bacuna, Nelson, Bennett, Bagan; Pack (C), Vaulks; Ralls, Wilson, Hoilett; Glatzel. Subs: Phillips (GK), Patten, Sang, Evans, Murphy, Ojo, Harris, Moore
REFEREE: Tony Harrington (County Durham)
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