Norwich City fans deliver their Fulham verdict
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The Championship countdown to Fulham continues at Charlton on Tuesday night. City fans have voted in their thousands for who should start at Craven Cottage.
Daniel Farke insists he is yet to decide his starting line up for the league kick-off at Fulham, but more than 2,000 Norwich City fans voted within the first six hours of our Pinkun online poll to give the German head coach a helping hand.
Timm Klose, Alex Pritchard and Louis Thompson have definitely been ruled out through injury for the trip to Craven Cottage but Farke faces some selection dilemmas if City pick up no fresh injuries in the final two pre-season outings.
Ivo Pinto, Wes Hoolahan and Harry Toffolo are poised to return to full training ahead of the opening weekend on August 5 and those on duty in Germany last week boosted their first team claims.
The former Borussia Dortmund II head coach has brought in seven new faces, and there were plenty of clues in wins over MSV Duisburg and DSC Arminia Bielefeld.
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Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke were paired in central defence in front of Angus Gunn with Mario Vrancic a starter for both friendlies. Harrison Reed and Steven Naismith got a chance to impress, Josh Murphy and Marley Watkins were deployed in wide areas and up front there is an intense battle between Nelson Oliveira and Cameron Jerome to lead the line for the big kick-off. But who do Norwich City fans think should be the starting XI for Fulham?
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Angus Gunn polled 95pc of the vote amongst the keepers. The Manchester City loanee appears to be the natural heir to the departed John Ruddy. Michael McGovern has been touted with a potential exit this summer while Remi Matthews and Paul Jones are at opposite ends of the career spectrum. Gunn will be the man in possession for the big kick-off.
• Right back
Ivo Pinto (90pc) - City’s regular full back last season and one of the most consistent performers for Norwich City in the Championship. The Portuguese defender picked up an untimely hamstring injury in the opening friendly at Cobh but with Farke indicating he is closing in on a return to full training, Pinto is preferred to club captain Russell Martin.
• Centre backs
Marcel Franke (48pc) and Christoph Zimmermann (45pc) - Two of Farke’s German imports were paired in tandem for both of the tour matches. Zimmermann’s appetite for minutes in pre-season appears limitless, while Franke has taken little time to adapt to his new surroundings. Both have looked comfortable in a flat back four and a defensive three, as they demonstrated against Bielefeld.
• Left back
James Husband (77pc) - Recently signed from Middlesbrough, Husband has two youngsters for competition in Jamal Lewis and Harry Toffolo. City’s FA Youth Cup winner is on the comeback trail from injury, while Lewis looks one for the future. Husband started last season in the Premier League. He is expected to begin this with a league debut at Craven Cottage.
Alex Tettey (16pc) would be the obvious choice in that defensive screening role. Farke praised his impact at Bielefeld and in particular his tactical discipline. Southampton loanee Harrison Reed (23pc) and Bosnian international Mario Vrancic (25pc) look to have the makings of an exciting central midfield pairing, in a key area of the field for the German. Farke has also recently urged Josh Murphy (25pc) to seize his big chance, following the departure of his twin, and City fans want to see him on the team sheet at Fulham.
• Number 10
Wes Hoolahan (45pc) - There is serious competition for the role of creator-in-chief in the injury absence of Alex Pritchard. Hoolahan certainly has the experience as he begins his 10th season at Carrow Road. James Maddison is the young pretender, but if Hoolahan can prove his fitness between now and August 5 then the Irishman gets the nod for those Norwich City fans who cast their vote.
Nelson Oliveira (94pc) - His fifth goal of pre-season was a sublime solo effort from the halfway line to seal Friday’s win over DSC Arminia Bielefeld. Oliveira and Cameron Jerome have both been staples in the transfer gossip columns, but Oliveira was the overwhelming choice to spearhead City’s frontline at Craven Cottage.