Parma strikers should put Norwich City to the test
Norwich City’s defensive resolve will be tested one more time before the Premier League campaign gets under way with some familiar names in the Parma attack for tomorrow’s final pre-season game.
The Canaries have kept things tight in their friendly programme so far, with Nathaniel Pinney’s late winner for Crystal Palace and Braulio N�brega’s equaliser for Real Zaragoza on Wednesday night the only goals they have conceded. Manager Paul Lambert has incorporated loan signings Ritchie de Laet and Kyle Naughton into his back four planning over the past few matches and, even with Elliott Ward sidelined by injury, he has at least seven senior players competing for four places when the real business kicks off at Wigan a week tomorrow.
Whichever combination faces Italian side Parma at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm), they are likely to be up against veteran former Chelsea and Argentina striker Hern�n Crespo, starting his last season in the game, and 20-year-old Fabio Borini, who scored a spectacular free-kick for Swansea against City last season during the loan spell that preceded his summer move from Chelsea to Parma.
Belgian international De Laet, who crowned some impressive performances with a goal against Zaragoza, is competing for places in central defence with Leon Barnett and Zak Whitbread as the big kick-off looms.
He said: “We have one more test against another foreign team. It’s not going to be easy but if we just get through those 90 minutes, then it’s just a week from Wigan away.
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“The boss sets the team up and everything clicks with all the players. I get along with Zak, I get along with Elliott, who is injured now, and Barney as well. So whoever the boss picks, we have to do the job.”
De Laet, 22, on loan from Manchester United, has had no difficulty settling down with City.
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“It’s still football. It’s one ball and wherever you are it’s still the same ball, so it’s just all about getting to know the lads, getting to know how they play, getting to know the boss and you go from there,” he said.
Lambert has a few injury problems so close to the new season with a casualty list that currently includes Ward (knee), James Vaughan (knee), Chris Martin (hamstring) and Andrew Crofts (ankle).
Parma, who won three European trophies in the 1990s, finished 12th in Serie A last season, surviving with two games to spare after new coach Franco Colomba inspired a six-match unbeaten run.
Parma squad – Goalkeepers: Pavarini, Mirante, Gallinetta, D’Arsie. Defenders: Feltscher, Zaccardo, Lucarelli, Brand�o, Paletta, Santacroce. Midfielders: Morrone, Biabiany, Galloppa, Coppola, Gobbi, Blasi, Modesto, Vald�s, Jadid, Obiora, Eduardo, Valiani. Forwards: Crespo, Giovinco, Borini, Sansone, Palladino, Paonessa, Pell�.