STARTING XIs: Sorensen and McLean return for City at Swansea
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Both Norwich and Swansea make two changes to their starting line-up for tonight's crunch clash of the promotion rivals in South Wales.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke opts to bring Jacob Sorensen back into his team at left-back, with new signing Dimitris Giannoulis dropping to the bench, while Kenny McLean replaces Mario Vrancic in attacking midfield.
With Emi Buendia serving the final game of his suspension, Przemek Placheta keeps his place out wide, alongside McLean and Todd Cantwell in support of lone striker Teemu Pukki - with the leaders looking to end three successive games without a goal.
Marco Stiepermann scored a late winner as the Swans were beaten 1-0 at Carrow Road in November but has been out of action since mid-December with a virus which caused significant fatigue. The midfielder is hoping to return to full training this month.
On-loan Villarreal left-back Xavi Quintilla is again not involved, with youngster Bali Mumba alongside Giannoulis as full-back cover on the bench, with the Greek international having started the goalless draws with Middlesbrough and Millwall in the past week.
Quintilla felt the effects of Covid-19 during a recent stint of self-isolation and the Spaniard was struggling to recover full strength in training earlier this week.
Daniel Barden continues as goalkeeper cover following Michael McGovern’s serious hamstring injury, with Norway international Orjan Nyland signed earlier this week but needing a couple of weeks in training to get up to speed.
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Full-back Sam Byram hopes to be back in full training this month after close to a year out due to two hamstring surgeries and striker Jordan Hugill is likely to miss all of the game in February due to his recent hamstring strain.
Right-back Max Aarons and on-loan Tottenham midfielder Oliver Skipp, however, continue their unbroken run of league starts this season and make it 28 starts from 28 Championship games.
Young prospects Josh Martin, Sebastian Soto, Melvin Sitti and Andrew Omobamidele are not involved but are playing for City’s U23s this evening, who take on Fulham at the Lotus Training Centre in Colney.
The hosts come into the game in third place, five points behind leaders Norwich and with a game in hand – which is at Blackburn in early March.
They’re unbeaten in seven league games, which is nine when FA Cup wins over Stevenage and Nottingham Forest are included, with a home game against Manchester City in the fifth round on Wednesday.
While City were being held to a 0-0 draw at Millwall on Tuesday evening, Swansea were without a midweek game following their 3-1 win at Rotherham on Saturday.
The Swans bring Kyle Naughton back onto the right side of their three-man central defence after a one-game ban, who made 32 appearances for Norwich while on loan from Tottenham during 2011-12.
Canaries academy product Korey Smith had hoped to return from three games out with a thigh injury to face his former club but is not involved. The midfielder made 73 appearances and scored four goals for City between 2009 and 2013.
Former City defender Ryan Bennett does start, with the other change seeing Jay Fulton replace Yan Dhanda in midfield, who drops to the bench.
Two of the Swans’ deadline day signings are involved but the game comes to soon for USA international midfielder Paul Arriola, who has signed on loan from DC United.
England U20 winger Morgan Whittaker, who was signed from Derby for around £700,000, and former Sheffield United right-back Kieron Freeman, signed from Swindon, are on the bench.
Swansea boss Steve Cooper is also without veteran winger Wayne Routledge (calf), centre-back Brandon Cooper (ankle) and striker Liam Cullen (ankle) due to injury.
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Sorensen; Skipp, Rupp; Placheta, McLean, Cantwell; Pukki. Subs: Barden (GK), Zimmermann, Mumba, Tettey, Giannoulis, Vrancic, Dowell, Hernandez, Idah
Swansea (3-5-2): Woodman; Naughton, Bennett, Guehi; Roberts, Fulton, Hourihane, Grimes (C), Bidwell; Ayew, Lowe. Subs: Hamer (GK), Cabango, Latibeaudiere, Manning, Freeman, Dhanda, Cooper, Morris, Whittaker
REFEREE: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
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