Norwich City sit back and watch promotion rivals in action
All eyes will be on tomorrow’s Championship final scores as Norwich City fans wait an extra 48 hours for their team to renew their promotion challenge.
The good news for the third-placed Canaries is that despite a rare blank Saturday, they can drop no lower than fifth in the table before taking on Bristol City in Monday’s televised match at Carrow Road (7.45pm).
The only two sides who can overtake Paul Lambert’s men over the weekend are Leeds, who need to beat Ipswich at Elland Road by at least two goals to move into third place tomorrow night, and Cardiff, who could then snatch third spot on Sunday if they win their home game against Barnsley.
Second-placed Swansea could open up a three-point gap over Norwich if they win at Derby, but a defeat or a draw would leave the way open for City to move into the second automatic promotion spot by beating the Robins.
With City getting an extra two days to rest after their 3-2 win at Leicester on Tuesday, skipper Grant Holt admitted after the game: “We’ve got a great opportunity now. This weekend we can sit back and look what goes on and then hopefully get a good win against Bristol City on Monday.”
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It promises to be a fascinating battle with 10 games to go as the race for promotion and play-off places intensifies.
Biggest threat to the existing top six appears to come from Burnley, top of the current form table with 16 points from the past six games, a resurgence under new boss Eddie Howe that began with their 2-1 win over the Canaries at Turf Moor five weeks ago.
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The seventh-placed Clarets have two games in hand on all six teams above them and are just seven points behind Swansea and Norwich.
The only other sides unbeaten in their last six games are the Canaries and eighth-placed Reading, who have recorded three wins and three draws since their 2-1 defeat at Carrow Road and still harbour play-off ambitions of their own.
Reading are, however, not in Championship action this weekend, instead preparing for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester City.
One other team featuring high on the current form chart are in fact Monday’s visitors, Bristol City, who have won their last four matches. They have also won three of their last four away games in high-scoring fashion with a 4-0 victory at Preston, a 3-1 success at Watford and a 4-1 win at Coventry.
The Robins hope defender Steven Caulker will be available for the game at Carrow Road. The Tottenham player has been back with his parent club undergoing treatment on a hip problem and missed the 2-1 midweek home victory over Portsmouth.
“We should have him back for training on Saturday ready to prepare for the Norwich game,” said manager Keith Millen.
Defender Liam Fontaine is also being checked out for an ankle problem.
Lambert’s men will be bidding to complete their fourth Championship double of the season.