Freezer’s Five: The key talking points from Norwich City’s pre-season victory at Lowestoft Town
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Following the second match of the Canaries’ pre-season campaign, winning 5-1 at Lowestoft Town, David Freezer takes a look at the key talking points from the friendly in the coastal sunshine.
Farke says relax
Plenty of Canaries fans will have been relieved to see Nelson Oliveira’s name on the teamsheet at Lowestoft, following speculation linking him with Championship rivals Reading.
Football website HITC went as far to say that City had accepted a bid from the Royals but the Portuguese striker came off the bench at half-time and casually slotted home from 10 yards in the 58th minute to make it 3-1.
Daniel Farke was, perhaps unsurprisingly, unwilling to say too much about the link given that sporting director Stuart Webber is the man who spearheads transfer business – although the head coach still has a decisive say in players coming in and out.
It was clear from the German’s body-language that he is not panicking about losing his highly-rated striker though, remaining relaxed and with plenty of praise for the 25-year-old.
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Selling the man expected to be first-choice striker this season, who has spoken about his relief to finally be settled with a club after a series of loan moves, doesn’t seem to add up. Could it be that his agent smells the chance for a new contract?
Time will tell but it seems unlikely Oliveira would have been playing if a deal truly had been agreed and Reading were offering the big figures which could turn Webber’s head.
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Another central defensive option was already a transfer priority for City but that need is now becoming urgent.
With around £5million banked from the sale of Jonny Howson, perhaps that will allow for a quick deal to be sealed and help Farke to start building his defence.
Timm Klose was at Lowestoft but taken out of the team after feeling a slight niggle in one of his legs in the morning training session ahead of the friendly, seeing youngster Ben Godfrey switched from right-back to the centre and winger Yanic Wildschut again deployed at right-back, a position the Dutchman doesn’t look totally comfortable with.
Russell Martin (back) and Ivo Pinto (hamstring) are both not yet fit to start their pre-seasons and 19-year-old Jamal Lewis is providing the competition for the only recognised senior left-back, Harry Toffolo.
All of which makes it difficult for Farke to start truly shaping his back-line, the area of his team which was so strong at Borussia Dortmund U23s.
Zimmermann is looking a good purchase so far and is certainly imposing, although it was his clumsy aerial challenge which gave away the free-kick from which Lowestoft scored, and Godfrey still looks more assured in midfield.
Klose could well return at Stevenage on Tuesday but more competition is needed or the Swiss international and Zimmermann are going to be playing a lot of minutes before the serious action begins on August 5.
Loanee’s first chance
Defensive midfielder Harrison Reed was only signed on a season-long loan from Southampton on Wednesday but was pitched into a full match alongside his team-mates against the Trawlerboys.
The 22-year-old was one of four new arrivals on show at the Amber Dew Events Stadium and looked tidy enough at a very early stage of his Canaries career.
The Saints academy product acted as the deep-lying pivot tasked with disrupting play, helping to retain possession and get the forwards on the front foot.
It was an unselfish and disciplined shift from the pocket rocket, similar to the style which David Fox enjoyed with Paul Lambert’s City team during the 2010-11 Championship promotion winning season.
Reed showed a lot less ambition with his passing than Fox used to but that may well change once his confidence and fitness levels pick up.
He survived a late studs-up challenge which earned Callum Bishop a booking late on, which had initially looked nasty as the physios ran on, but is likely to have been left with a decent bruise somewhere near his knee.
Reports about the future of Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Michael McGovern have suggested the 32-year-old is surplus to requirements.
When he wasn’t involved at Cobh Ramblers in midweek it looked like one season could be all the former Hamilton man would be getting with City but he reappeared at Lowestoft.
Handed a start, he didn’t have too much to do, comfortably holding a shot from Harvey Hodd from the edge of the box but failing to smother the danger of a loose ball after a free-kick was headed down in his direction moments before the hosts’ goal.
Remi Matthews also enjoyed a reasonably routine 45 minutes after the break but it still looks unlikely they will both be kept, along with the experienced Paul Jones, as cover for Manchester City loanee Angus Gunn.
If McGovern wants to stay and fight for the number one shirt he will need to show Farke what he can do against the tougher opposition to come in pre-season.
Youngster taking his chance
Harry Toffolo looked fired up for the second half when he came on at half-time against the Blues, having seen young team-mate Jamal Lewis impress in the first half.
The Northern Ireland Under-21 international looked bright at left-back, linking nicely with Josh Murphy and winning the penalty for Jerome’s equaliser.
At 19 he is certainly not out of place in the men’s game and looks to have enjoyed something of a growth spurt. Toffolo is three years his senior and champing at the bit for his chance after a series of loans away from the club. However, the FA Youth Cup winner has competition.
Lewis has apparently caught the eye of Farke and certainly looks capable of getting forward, will he be able to cope with the better attacking quality he will face in the coming weeks though?
Toffolo has played regularly in League One in the past two seasons so must be in the driving seat for that left-back berth until a new signing arrives but it is good the former England Under-20 international has some competition to keep him on his toes.