Pukki feeling fresh for Finland return as busy international spell begins for City stars
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Teemu Pukki is feeling refreshed and ready to get back on the goal trail for Finland tonight, as international action gets started for a host of Norwich City layers.
Pukki and the Finns begin their Uefa Nations League Group B4 campaign at home to Wales, while in the same group Adam Idah is hoping to make his senior Republic of Ireland debut in Bulgaria (both 7.45pm).
Pukki enjoyed an incredible 18 months for club and country, scoring 48 goals in 79 matches as he fired City to the Premier League and Finland to the European Championship.
But a fractured toe after he had scored in a 1-1 draw at Leicester last December sparked a barren run of just two penalties during the final 21 games of last season, as the Canaries were relegated.
However, the 30-year-old scored twice in open play during pre-season and starts national duty with a fresh optimism.
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“It was a really long season,” he admitted. “Although there was a break due to the coronavirus, when we didn’t play, we still trained hard alone.
“It was physically and mentally tough. That rest of the season went the way it went (getting relegated).
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“Of course, a couple of goals in training games boosted my mood and self-confidence for me.
“They were just training games, but it was important to get goals after a long time.”
Speaking to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat ahead of tonight’s game, Pukki added: “I tried to forget about the rest of the season and start over. Now it feels better again.”
City have 14 players on international duty in total, including defender Rocky Bushiri, who is on loan at Mechelen in the Belgian top flight and has retained his place in the Belgium Under-21 squad.
Tim Krul is with Holland for the first time since a serious knee injury in 2015, Kenny McLean is with Scotland fresh from signing a new three-year contract with City and both Jamal Lewis and Michael McGovern are in the Northern Ireland squad.
Summer signing Danel Sinani has joined up with Luxembourg and Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey and Oliver Skipp are all with the England U21s for European U21 Championship qualifying, as is Przemyslaw Placheta with Poland U21s and Jacob Sorensen with Denmark U21s.
Fixtures involving City players (7.45pm unless stated)
Thursday, Sept 3 - Finland v Wales, Bulgaria v Ireland
Friday, Sept 4 - Denmark U21 v Ukraine U21 (5pm), Estonia U21 v Poland U21 (5pm), Kosovo U21 v England U21 (6pm), Holland v Poland, Romania v N Ireland, Scotland v Israel
Sat, Sept 5 - Azerbaijan v Luxembourg (5pm)
Sun, Sept 6 - Rep Ireland v Finland (5pm)
Mon, Sept 7 - Poland U21 v Russia U21 (5pm), Holland v Italy, N Ireland v Norway, Czech Rep v Scotland
Tues, Sept 8 - Belgium U21 v Germany U21 (3pm), N Ireland U21 v Denmark U21 (5pm), Austria U21 v England U21 (7.30pm), Luxembourg v Montenegro