Kids are in the frame for Owls
Nigel Worthington has confirmed that he would be bringing in a couple of fresh faces for the trip to Sheffield Wednesday - and there's an excellent chance that the players in question will be of the fresh-faced variety.
Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington confirmed yesterday that he would be bringing in a couple of fresh faces for tomorrow's trip to Sheffield Wednesday - and there's an excellent chance that the players in question will be of the fresh-faced variety.
With the Canaries now out of the running for the play-offs the final four games of the season are all about preparing for the future, and with that in mind Worthington looks certain to give several of his promising youngsters a chance to show what they can do.
It remains to be seen whether that process will get under way at the weekend, but it's fair bet that there will be at least one teenager on show as City go looking for their first away victory of 2006 at Hillsborough.
With Leon Mckenzie having been ruled out with the hip injury he sustained at Preston last week, Ryan Jarvis could well get a chance up front, while highly-rated Irish youth international Michael Spillane could also come into contention for a place in the starting line-up.
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Worthington was keeping his cards close to his chest when quizzed about the youngsters yesterday, but was happy to reveal that supporters would be seeing a different side to the one which lost in such low-key fashion at Deepdale last Saturday.
“We have made a decision on who will replace Leon - and I am not going to give you any clues,” he said. “You'll have to wait and see.
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“All I will say is that there will be a couple of new faces in the starting line-up. And that sort of thing will continue to happen between now and the end of the season as we look at things and experiment.
“There will be different little scenarios that will come into the equation in our final four games
“That's because we are no longer in a position where we can get in the play-offs. It's about giving people opportunities - and seeing how they do.
“Preparations for the future are always ongoing. We have got four games to go, two away, two at home, and we are looking for players to go out there and turn in good performances and get good results.”
With a place up front up for grabs, Ryan Jarvis would appear to be a sure-fire bet to be one of new faces at the weekend. The 19-year-old striker hasn't played in the first team since a substitute's appearance at QPR on October 22, with a niggling knee injury severely hampering his progress. But he is now fit and raring to go - and desperate to impress his manager after signing a new two-year deal with the club on Tuesday.
The timing looks perfect for City's youngest player of all time to make only his sixth start since setting the record three years ago - but his younger brother Rossi, who has already made five appearances this term, will have to wait for another opportunity to impress.
He has been named in England's Under-18 squad for the friendly with Slovenia at Bournemouth's Dean Court on Monday and is currently with his new team-mates preparing for a possible first taste of international action.
That leaves Spillane as next in the line for a full debut in the Championship. The versatile 17-year-old was given a run-out at right-back for the reserves on Monday night, but he can also play at centre-back and in the middle of the park and will almost certainly be handed his big chance before the end of the season.
Worthington confirmed yesterday that Dickson Etuhu would be filling one of the central positions at Hillsborough, but there could be other midfield roles up for grabs and Spillane will surely come into the manager's thoughts ahead of the game.
Goalkeeper Joe Lewis is another youngster who will be hoping for a taste of the big time at some stage, while the club's four new professionals Andrew Cave-Brown, Matthew Halliday, Andrew Fisk and Robert Eagle could also be given a chance, with the bench perhaps being their most realistic target.
Cave-Brown is the only member of that quintet with any first team experience, having made a brief substitute's appearance alongside Spillane in City's FA Cup third defeat against West Ham in January.
As far as the more experienced players are concerned Worthington revealed yesterday that McKenzie and Paul McVeigh (back) would both be struggling to make the Easter games against Wednesday and QPR, while Leon Safri was making a good recovery from the gall bladder operation he underwent last Monday.
“Leon is still tender and he won't be available for the weekend,” he said. “There is also a question mark about the QPR game on Monday,” he said.
“Paul is back in training but he has been out for a period of time and because of the injury he has not done a lot of physical work so we will have to monitor him closely.
“Youssef has had his operation and he is now back at home. Everything is going well but obviously it will be pre-season before we see him again.”
Another player who will almost certainly be missing tomorrow is defender Zesh Rehman - and there is every chance that the Fulham man has now made his final appearance in a Norwich shirt.
“Zesh cricked his neck in the reserve game the other night and we will see what he is like in the morning,” said Worthington, who was then asked what the future held for his two loan players.
“As far as Zesh is concerned he'll go back to his club, that is the agreement we have. As for Jonatan Johansson a decision has yet to be made.”