Connor Southwell: City need McGovern to replicate Euro 2016 heroics during stand-in spell
- Credit: PA
It never rains but it pours for Norwich City in terms of injuries.
Despite Tim Krul and Teemu Pukki's respective injury troubles not being as bad as initially feared, the reality is City face a period without their number one goalkeeper, a natural left-back or their top scorer.
These options currently aren't even auxiliary ones. At left-back, City are playing Jacob Sorensen. Up front, it looks set to be Marco Stiepermann who will be leading the line as they welcome Coventry City to Carrow Road.
Yet, if your glass is looking half full, the defensive spine of their team remains unchanged. Despite the fears over central defenders, currently, all three are available for selection for Daniel Farke.
The unforgiving, unrelenting nature of the Championship means the Canaries have little time to lick their wounds and feel sorry for themselves. The games won't let up and if they wish to have success this season, neither can their performances.
A return of six points from two gruelling away fixtures with Middlesbrough and Stoke City have taken the pressure out of a home match with Coventry. In a game that would conventionally see City boast shorter odds than their opponents, caution is required this time around.
Such a lengthy injury list has left a deep squad decimated. Nobody anticipated a scenario where Farke was forced to think creatively about his selection in order to select a team capable of impacting games at this level.
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Krul's absence is a noticeable one. Farke describes him as the best in the Championship. A minor setback won't diminish his quality but will frustrate the Dutch international as he continues to hit new heights since signing for City in 2018.
Michael McGovern isn't Krul. Farke knows it, McGovern himself knows it. But that doesn't mean he isn't capable of aiding City's Championship quest. In spite of his physicality, the 36-year-old is more than competent at this level.
It's a graphic illustration of the embarrassment of riches available to Farke that he possesses a fully-fledged Northern Ireland international at his disposal in absence of his number one.
McGovern does has his flaws, as does every player, but within the inner workings at Colney, there is a trust and deep-held respect for him. Every day, he is the first out on the training pitch and remains there as players practice free-kicks and penalties long after the rest have gone home.
Remember, this is a goalkeeper who produced a sterling individual performance to keep world champions Germany at bay in the Euros back in 2016. How City will hope that McGovern can re-discover that level of performance again.
Farke highlighted McGovern's physicality as a potential concern in his pre-match press conference, it was evident on Tuesday how Stoke looked to crowd his six-yard area at set-pieces in hope of gaining an advantage.
City need to be prepared for the same aerial bombardment from Coventry City. McGovern eased the pressure on the defence expertly by claiming a couple of crosses in the dying embers of City's win in the Potteries.
The beauty of an injury crisis is the opportunity it provides for others. McGovern is set to profit from that, but it saw Reece McAlear and Tom Dickson-Peters occupy spaces on the bench.
Dickson-Peters could even be provided with an opportunity should City find themselves trailing at any stage. Regardless of the result, that is a massive achievement for a striker who only turned 18 years old in September.
Farke faces a conundrum surrounding who he elects to lead the line for his side in Adam Idah's, Jordan Hugill's and Pukki's absence. Stiepermann began his career at Borussia Dortmund operating as a striker and enjoyed a brief loan spell with German fourth-tier side Alemannia Aachen, scoring twice in a 3-3 draw with Ingolstadt playing as a centre-forward.
Whilst Placheta played the final 20 minutes as a makeshift striker against Stoke, he struggled to make an impact against several towering defenders with limited service. Stiepermann does have a physical edge but won't pose a threat in behind the defence, meaning there will be more reliance on the Polish winger to make runs into space.
The dynamic won't be the same. City will rely on more midfielders to get ahead of the ball.
It may even take a moment of brilliance, but City's performance will need to contain an obdurate streak to ensure they come out of the game with something.
As long as they emerge from this period in touching distance with those at the top of the division, with players set to return, that bodes well for their immediate prospects of a quick Premier League return.