Norwich City report card: Casualties of success were left on the fringes of title fun
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As our end-of-season Norwich City report card series comes to an end, David Freezer takes a look at those who had to watch much of the Canaries’ title success from afar.
Not everyone at Norwich City was able to fully enjoy the Championship title success of Daniel Farke's squad.
As ever in modern football, with squads often hovering around the 25-man mark, there are some who will be left on the fringes. Whether that's due to form or fitness, only 14 players can feature in a match.
The highest profile casualty during City's promotion campaign was undoubtedly Grant Hanley, the man given the captain's armband during pre-season and runner-up in the last campaign's Player of the Season voting.
The Scotland international centre-back had enjoyed a positive first season with the Canaries but saw his pre-season disrupted by a thigh injury, which would eventually need treatment which would rule him out for around three months.
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Hanley, 27, played every minute of the first six games but wasn't able to display his true ability before being ruled out during the September international break.
After returning to fitness in December the Scot would make just three substitute appearances in the league. That was due to his chance arriving in the FA Cup third round in January, being sent off for a clumsy tackle in the first half as City were knocked out by Portsmouth at Carrow Road, earning a one-game suspension.
It summed up a forgettable campaign for Hanley but the captain remained a positive presence on the sidelines, often cajoling team-mates and joining in with celebrations, encouraging a united spirit on the bench alongside Timm Klose due to the form of Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann.
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- 3 Canaries keeper sent out on loan
- 4 Iwan Roberts: Don't blame formations for Norwich City's poor form
- 5 City star pencils in Anthony Joshua night out after Everton clash
- 6 Derby County struggles vindicate Norwich approach for Farke
- 7 Godfrey had out-grown City's Championship quest
- 8 So where's Norwich City's next point coming from?
- 9 Hanley will answer City critics
- 10 Robin Sainty: Not the reaction City boss hoped for...
Often joining him on those celebrations and keeping spirits high during the promotion chase was back-up keeper Michael McGovern, who watched on as Tim Krul enjoyed an ever-present season as number one.
U23 keeper Aston Oxborough assumed that role for three league games, when the minimum quota of seven homegrown players was being tested. The Northern Ireland international did play in all five cup ties though, helping City beat top-flight Cardiff 3-1 and push Bournemouth close in the League Cup.
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The 34-year-old's attitude and experience even earned him a new contract to keep him at the club until 2021, although it looks likely he will be sticking around as third choice, with strong competition for Krul expected to arrive.
There were two right-backs having to watch on as Max Aarons tore up the division, with substitute roles even rare for Ivo Pinto and Felix Passlack.
Pinto had been skipper during Farke's first season and did start three of the opening five matches but disappeared from view after the 3-0 home loss to Leeds in August and only made two cup appearances subsequently.
The 29-year-old has rejoined former club Dinamo Zagreb since the end of the season, after it was confirmed publicly that he would not be getting a new contract, bringing an end to over three years in Norfolk.
Passlack arrived on loan from Borussia Dortmund amid much hype but the 21-year-old returns to Germany after just one brief league appearance. He did start all five cup games but didn't seem physically strong enough for the English game.
German left-back Philip Heise arrived in January but wasn't even named on the bench. The 27-year-old was initially lined up as a summer signing but ended up joining from Dynamo Dresden in January for a nominal fee, ahead of his contract expiring, and will look to get up to speed quickly in pre-season.
Few had to be as patient as striker Dennis Srbeny though, a player who was fit all season but who had considerable competition up front from Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes.
The 25-year-old German scored three goals in 20 games but just five of those were starts, all in cup games - featuring as an unused substitute in 17 league games.
He scored a cracking goal in the League Cup win at Cardiff but could well be facing a loan exit following promotion, with his contract running until 2021.
Fellow striker Carlton Morris recovered from his knee ligament injury to return to U23 action in January but hurt his ankle and played in three more development games before the season was over. The 23-year-old will spend the next campaign on loan with League One side Rotherham.
It was a similar story for Louis Thompson, although the midfielder did make eight appearances after recovering from his long term Achilles heel issues - only for a dislocated shoulder to rule him out in October and then a knee problem restricted him to just three U23 games.
The 24-year-old did train with Wales at the end of the campaign though and signed a new contract in October to extend his terms until 2022, so will have his eyes firmly fixed on pre-season.
Add to the mix on-loan players Ben Marshall (Millwall), James Husband (Fleetwood), Marcel Franke (Darmstadt) and Nelson Oliveira (Reading) and City still have a decent sized squad, although all four look unlikely to be in Farke's plans for the Premier League.