Marley Watkins was a target for Bristol City before he signed for Norwich City

Marley Watkins, pictured in action at Brentford in midweek, was a target for Bristol City during the

Marley Watkins, pictured in action at Brentford in midweek, was a target for Bristol City during the summer. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Lee Johnson has admitted Bristol City were in competition with Norwich City for the signing of Marley Watkins from Barnsley this summer.

The Robins are flying up to Norfolk ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash at Carrow Road, before a home clash against Bolton on Tuesday.

Ahead of the match the Bristol boss has revealed he wanted to sign Canaries forward Watkins, having signed the 26-year-old from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2015 when he was Barnsley manager, as his deal with the Tykes was expiring.

“Marley was another one that we were interested in in the summer. He got a fantastic deal at Norwich so I was delighted for him, because obviously it wasn’t so long ago that I picked him up from Inverness, from deepest, darkest Scotland,” Johnson told BBC Radio Bristol.

“He did very well for me, so I’ll be looking forward to catching up with him.”

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Former City midfielder Gary O’Neil is not expected to recover from a knee problem in time for the game but Canaries academy product Korey Smith remains a regular in central midfield for the Robins.

Smith, now 26, came on as a late substitute to help see out the game on Tuesday as Bristol knocked Premier League side Stoke City out of the Carabao Cup.

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That 2-0 win in the third round at Ashton Gate came courtesy of goals early in the second half from strikers Famara Diedhiou and Matty Taylor – and extended the Robins’ unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions, after a 4-1 home league win over Derby on Saturday.

“I was chuffed, I thought the lads were great, thought they worked extremely hard, they had to against a Premier League side that wanted to do very well in the competition,” Johnson continued, speaking to his club’s official website.

“Having spoken to Mark Hughes after, they was very complimentary of the players and it was good to be able to sit in on a chat of the quality of the management they had, not only Mark but his coaching staff as well, and it was great for us that they came and sat in the office for a good half-hour and we were able to discuss things.

“We appreciate that, obviously a great result and now we roll on.”

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