City could be without several key players for Preston clash

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke during the Sky Bet Championship match at Hillsborough, Sheffield
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Daniel Farke is hoping the football authorities reconsider their decision. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City could be without several key players for their trip to Preston North End on Good Friday due to a tight turnaround caused by the scheduling of international fixtures.

Frustrations are growing at Colney as the club contends with numerous logistical challenges due to players representing their countries in pivotal games on the Wednesday, less than 48hours before they kick-off at Deepdale.

Oliver Skipp, Max Aarons and Dimitris Giannoulis are all set to feature for their countries on Wednesday, March 31 in pivotal games for their countries.

Kenny McLean, Grant Hanley and Przemek Placheta could all be in action on the same date for Scotland and Poland respectively.

City did hold talks about potentially re-scheduling the Preston game to the Saturday, a proposal that was rejected by Alex Neil's side.

The club are now looking at possible solutions, including flying those players affected straight up to Manchester before collecting them en-route to Deepdale. 

That frustration has grown after Brentford's game against Huddersfield Town was moved to the Saturday after being selected for television coverage.

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Those players travelling abroad wouldn't need to quarantine upon their return due to possessing the 'elite sportsperson' tag. They would need to return two negative lateral flow coronavirus tests before being eligible to join up with the group.

It is now looking increasingly likely that a number of City stars will be absent for this fixture. Those concerns are mounting over player welfare and a lack of recovery time for those involved in international fixtures.

Dimitris Giannoulis of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at St Andrews, Birmin

City could be without left-back Dimitris Giannoulis among others for their Good Friday trip to Deepdale. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City boss Daniel Farke has questioned the 'fair play' aspect of the decision-making process and is hoping the EFL reconsider their position.

"When I think about our fixtures coming up, Brentford's game after the international break is moved to a Saturday because of television. For us, the game should not be on the Friday against Preston. 

"Of course, Preston don't want to move the game to a Saturday because they have a better chance of winning the game when we are without 10 or 15 players. We have players who are playing in important games for their country on Wednesday. 

"If we have to play our game on the Friday, then we need to travel to Preston on the Thursday. That would mean my players can't speak about training and that they have to play two games in 48 hours. 

The Norwich players before the Carabao Cup match at Kenilworth Road, Luton
Picture by Paul Chestert

Norwich were missing 16 players for their Carabao Cup clash with Luton back in September. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"I am struggling to complain about this because we are all working in this business and we are lucky to get the monies from broadcasters so I am far away from moaning about the situation because we all get our rewards. 

"If I am honest, I would rather get less money if that means we can play games according to fair play and look after the wellbeing of my players. We have awareness days for fair play but when it comes to the decision about which games are moved, you get the feeling fair play is not the most important topic. The same with wellbeing. 

"We would have to play without them or get them to travel to Preston straight away. We speak a lot about looking about players but in Covid times we are sending them away to high-risk areas and come back and play an incredibly important game because we are fighting for promotion. It is life-changing for some of my younger players. 

"There is a danger of injuries. A danger of burnouts. We have lovely awareness days for mental health and some lovely buttons but when it comes to decisions, it's important we have this in mind.

"I will never speak about this again. I don't want to use it as an excuse. But I want to send the message about fair play and the health of our players. I trust our key people. It is a difficult decision."

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