STARTING XIs: Buendia missing for City as Forest make five changes

Emiliano Buendia of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Hillsborough, Sheffie

Emi Buendia is missing for Norwich tonight after his partner gave birth overnight - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Emi Buendia is missing for Norwich City at Nottingham Forest this evening, following the birth of his second child overnight.

Kieran Dowell replaces the Canaries' creative maestro against his former club, making his first league start of 2021, with Marco Stiepermann returning to the bench.

The Canaries have won just one of their six league games without Buendia so far this season, 1-0 at Huddersfield on the opening day, with the influential Argentine having 10 goals and 12 assists to his name.

Meanwhile, Forest have made five changes after fresh injury problems, with former Canaries striker Lewis Grabban starting.

Norwich are without Adam Idah for a second game, with the forward likely to have surgery on a hernia soon which will keep him out of the Republic of Ireland squad.

Long-term injury absentees Sam Byram and Michael McGovern both remain on the comeback trail after hamstring operations.

Watford closed the gap on the Canaries to seven points again as they won 4-1 at Rotherham on Tuesday night but Swansea slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

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That means a ninth successive victory would push the leaders 13 points clear of third place with nine games remaining and leave them on the verge of promotion with 82 points.

There were 2,000 fans allowed into Carrow Road for the visit of Forest in December, when City were made to work hard for a 2-1 win with nine players still out despite their injury crisis starting to ease, with Jacob Sorensen and Emi Buendia scoring the goals.

Forest, managed by former Canaries boss Chris Hughton, are nine points clear of the relegation zone despite two draws and two defeats in their last four games.

Only four teams have a better defensive record than 17th-placed Forest though, with four defeats in 18 league games proof that Hughton has made them much harder to beat since his arrival in October.

Five changes include Grabban replacing Glenn Murray up front, with goalkeeper Brice Samba replaced by Jordan Smith and winger Anthony Knockaert replaced by Ryan Yates.

Attacking midfielder Filip Krovinovic is replaced by Luke Freeman and Tyler Blackett also comes in at left-back for Gaetan Bong.

The hosts have lost two other influential players to injury recently, with winger Joe Lolley unlikely to play again this season due to hamstring damage and centre-back Joe Worrall cracking a rib.

They have former Canaries striker Grabban in their XI, with the striker only managing three goals in 19 games. The 33-year-old has regularly been named captain by Hughton though and returned from a five-game injury absence during the 1-1 home draw with Reading on Saturday.

Grabban scored 13 goals in 44 games for City, helping to earn play-off promotion in 2015 but being sold back to Bournemouth for a reported £8million in January 2016 after featuring rarely in the Premier League.

FOREST (4-2-3-1): Smith; Christie, Figueiredo, McKenna, Blackett; Yates, Garner; Freeman, Cafu, Ameobi; Grabban (C). Subs: Diallo (GK), Mbe Soh, Ribeiro, Colback, Jenkinson, Mighten, Krovinovic, Murray, Taylor 

NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Giannoulis; Skipp, McLean; Dowell, Rupp, Cantwell; Pukki. Subs: Nyland (GK), Zimmermann, Tettey,  Sorensen, Vrancic, Stiepermann, Hernandez, Placheta, Hugill

REFEREE: Leigh Doughty (Lancashire) 

- You can follow all the updates, analysis and reaction from the City Ground in our Matchday Live blog

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