Grant braced for tough away day
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City take on two of the Coca-Cola Championship's potential promotion contenders in their opening two matches of the 2007-08 campaign. The Canaries kick off their league programme with one of their longest trips of the season when they face Preston North End at Deepdale on Saturday, August 11.
Norwich City take on two of the Coca-Cola Championship's potential promotion contenders in their opening two matches of the 2007-08 campaign.
The Canaries kick off their league programme with one of their longest trips of the season when they face Preston North End at Deepdale on Saturday, August 11.
The Carling Cup first round tie against Barnet - likely to be played on Tuesday, August 14 - will be the first home fixture before Peter Grant's men start their Championship home schedule when Southampton visit Carrow Road on Saturday, August 18.
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Preston narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs last season when they finished seventh in the Championship after a late-season slump, one point and one place behind the Saints, who were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Derby.
Grant admitted he would have preferred to start the new season on home soil, but relishes the task of taking on two of the division's more fancied sides.
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He said: “We would have liked a home game so that the supporters have an early chance to see the team, but we are looking forward to going to Preston.”
Injury-hit City lost 2-1 on their last visit to Deepdale in February, but Grant said: “We played ever so well. I was disappointed with the result last season. It was a difficult situation. We lost players early in the game but I felt we should have got something from the game.”
Southampton make a swift return to Norwich after winning 1-0 to put a damper on City's final home game of last season.
“Southampton looked very strong here,” said Grant. “There were times when it was men against boys. There will be money going in there and they will be a big threat again. They have good players but then again, we have good players and we are looking to bring in more before the start of the season.
“I hope other clubs will be looking at us and thinking we are a threat, and hopefully we can show that in the first two games against two tough teams.”
In a repeat of last season, City's 46-match Championship programme ends at Sheffield Wednesday. They go to Hillsborough on Sunday, May 4, but Grant is hoping for a more auspicious occasion this time after a 3-2 defeat wrapped up 2006-07.
He said: “We must make sure we have a different season and can hopefully go to Sheffield Wednesday this time with something to celebrate.
“The season will unfold as we go. The Championship is not like the Premiership where things can be cut and dried early on.”
Dates are subject to change because of TV selection, international fixtures or police advice. The derby matches against Ipswich, scheduled for Saturday, November 3, at Carrow Road, and Saturday, April 12, at Portman Road, are both likely to be switched to the Sundays. If the Ipswich home game moves to Sunday, November 4, the visit of Watford on Tuesday, November 6, would probably go back 24 hours to a Wednesday kick-off.
The Canaries' visit to Cardiff on Saturday, February 9, may also be switched at the request of police because it clashes with the Wales v Scotland rugby international the same day.
September promises to be a tough month on City's travels with trips to relegated Charlton, then Wolves in the space of five days.
The first league match against Scunthorpe since 1963-64 will be at Carrow Road on Tuesday, October 2, while the first league trip to Blackpool since 1975 should give City fans the chance to take in the illuminations on Tuesday, November 27.
Boxing Day brings Charlton to Norwich, while - for the second season in a row - City visit Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.
March could prove to be a make or break month with no fewer than seven matches scheduled.
Easter Saturday, March 22, brings a home game against Colchester, but there is no fixture scheduled for Easter Monday.