STARTING XIs: Omobamidele among four City changes at Preston
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Academy defender Andrew Omobamidele has been handed his first senior start for Norwich City this afternoon, as the Championship leaders return to action at Preston North End.
Tim Krul, Grant Hanley, Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki are all fit to retain their starting roles despite their international exertions but full-backs Max Aarons and Dimitris Giannoulis are not involved.
Oliver Skipp, Onel Hernandez and Przemek Placheta are all on the bench, with Villarreal loanee Xavi Quintilla coming in at left-back for Giannoulis and youngster Bali Mumba for Aarons at right-back, who misses out with a slight ankle problem.
Quintilla was last involved in the 2-0 home win over Coventry in the FA Cup in January but his last league appearance was a 2-1 home win over Wycombe in October prior to injury problems.
Mumba, 19, also started that cup game against Coventry after picking up a knee injury having impressed from the bench during the 1-0 home win over Swansea in the league in November.
Jacob Sorensen replaces Skipp in central midfield, who made three starts for the England Under-21s including on Wednesday, with Republic of Ireland U21 centre-back Omobamidele coming in for Ben Gibson.
The Canaries are without centre-backs Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann for the rest of the season, with Gibson having ankle ligament surgery and Zimmermann damaging hamstring tendons in training earlier this week.
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Omobamidele, 18, has only made one brief appearance for City before, as a substitute during the win at Cardiff in January. After impressing at under-23 level the youngster has been training with the first team throughout this season and made his Ireland U21 debut during the international break.
For Aarons and Skipp it ends their run as the only City outfield players to have started every league game of the campaign so far.
Ireland forward Adam Idah (hernia operation) and midfielder Lukas Rupp (hamstring) are hoping to be in contention for next weekend's trip to Derby.
Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern is hoping to be back in team training later this month after hamstring surgery at the start of the year but Orjan Nyland was signed as cover for Tim Krul in January.
Sam Byram's year out due to two hamstring operations means the full-back is focussing on being fit for pre-season after a frustrating rehabilitation.
The Canaries go into the game sitting eight points clear of Watford, who host struggling Sheffield Wednesday, and 14 ahead of third-placed Swansea, who play at Birmingham at 8pm.
Preston held City to a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road in September, with a Scott Sinclair header cancelled out by Pukki but Darnell Fisher reclaiming the lead before the break, only for Placheta to find another equaliser with five minutes remaining.
Preston North End v Norwich City: All you need to know
The hosts are playing their first game without former Norwich boss Alex Neil in charge since the summer of 2017, with the Scot leaving following a 1-0 home defeat to Luton prior to the international break, after just one win in nine games left North End 16th and looking nervously at the relegation battle.
Former City coach Frankie McAvoy has been put in charge on an interim basis until the end of the season, who worked briefly under Daniel Farke before moving to Lancashire to join Neil at Deepdale.
The Scot switches to a 4-4-2 shape, with the fit-again Andrew Hughes replacing Joe Rafferty at left-back and winger Tom Barkhuizen replacing Everton loanee Anthony Gordon.
Danish striker Emil Riis comes in up front, with midfielder Ben Whiteman dropping to the bench.
Former Canaries keeper Declan Rudd (knee), defender Patrick Bauer (Achilles) and forward Louis Moult (knee) are long-term absentees.
Midfielder Alan Browne is suspended but his Republic of Ireland colleague Jayson Molumby is on the bench after international duty.
Preston also have striker Ched Evans in their starting XI, who scored 10 goals in 28 games for City back in the 2007-08 season when he was on loan from Manchester City as a young prospect.
PRESTON (4-4-2): Iversen; van den Berg, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Barkhuizen, Ledson, Johnson (C), Sinclair; Evans, Riis. Subs: Hudson (GK), Huntington, Molumby, Bayliss, Whiteman, Potts, Bodin, Gordon, Maguire
NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Krul; Mumba, Hanley (C), Omobamidele, Quintilla; Sorensen, McLean; Buendia, Dowell, Cantwell; Pukki. Subs: Nyland (GK), Tettey, Skipp, Vrancic, Stiepermann, Martin, Hernandez, Placheta, Hugill
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone (Northants)