Farke backs City players to handle threat of injury woes

This season’s hectic schedule and mounting injury issues are posing a major threat as Norwich City prepare to take on Stoke City this evening, a team Daniel Farke expects to be in the promotion mix.

The Potters are seventh and just three points behind the table-topping Canaries, who will be without at least nine first-team players due to injury at the Bet365 Stadium.

Farke admits that Kenny McLean and Jordan Hugill joining those already in the treatment room is posing a “big threat” to his team’s eight-game unbeaten run, having already had to rotate his team much more than he would have liked this season.

“I believe in my players. We have to stick together even a bit more during these difficult times,” said City’s head coach. “This is what we’re trying to do and also rely on the players who will come in right now and perhaps play a bit more important role than the weeks before, that they take a step up and use this chance to help.

“This is why I talked so much about how important it is to have depth in the squad and quality in depth. It’s a tricky situation at the moment, especially because with the players with international duty it was difficult.

“When I think about Teemu Pukki for example, I can’t remember the last proper training session for him. Right now he is just playing games and having recovery sessions, so for seven or eight weeks he has not had one proper shooting exercise on the training pitch.

“He is thank god the best striker in the league and he can handle this, he is in red hot form, he scores or assists in more or less each and every game, but we also have young players like Przemyslaw Placheta.

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“Like in the last games it was ‘why can’t he score from five yards?’ and it is also a bit due to that we can’t train properly. This guy has to play every three days, he has to fly around the world for international games.”

Farke has made clear his opposition to the amount of unnecessary international matches played, after the short turnaround from last season and a short pre-season ahead of a campaign of fixtures squeezed into a schedule a month shorter than usual.

He continued: “The teams who are in a worse position are not allowed to complain because everyone says they are searching for excuses or want to distract a little bit, but I am allowed to still stay humble and talk about this topic.

“Believe me, I will stop straight away if things are getting worse for us from a football point of view. All in all we are in a great position and a great unbeaten run, sitting top of the table, there with a good points average, our performances are good, several clean sheets.

“But it’s not like I just think about success, success, success. I also work with human beings and I think about the health and safety of them, and also in the bigger picture we want to cheer up our supporters.

“Football is for the supporters and they deserve to see the best teams and the best qualities, not the best players on crutches.”

Farke expects a tough challenge tonight at Stoke, with Michael O’Neill’s team victorious in three of their last four games, winning 4-3 at home to Huddersfield on Saturday.

“In general, for me, Stoke is a brilliant mix between pretty experienced players on this level, Fletcher and Vokes up front, and then also lots of pace, quality and young energy on the wings,” he added.

“They have a really good squad, a pretty experienced coach and it’s definitely a team who will fight for the top six this season. Another strong opponent in a tough away match. We will have to be fully switched on to bring back points.”

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