'We have good depth' - Zimbo will be ready to step in for City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Christoph Zimmermann is ready to step up and prove Norwich City's strength in depth again after the international break.
The German centre-back will be needed for the remaining eight games of the Canaries’ promotion push, after the news that Ben Gibson is out for the rest of the season and will need surgery on an ankle injury.
It now looks almost certain that Zimmermann will be alongside skipper Grant Hanley for the upcoming games against Preston and Huddersfield, with 13 of his 22 league appearances so far this season being starts.
"Everybody knows that you can't get promoted, have a good season or win the league if you have just got 11 strong players. It is about the depth in the squad as well," said the towering 28-year-old.
"That's because when someone has some minor issues, like when Ben Gibson had and I came into the team, or when Todd (Cantwell) struggled for two games and Onel (Hernandez) came in. He did a terrific job and we managed to win the Wycombe and the Brentford games.
"It has been one of the keys so far this season that we have good depth in the squad. It is not just the first XI that are strong. When we have to react to something the players that come in deliver and there is no drop in our performances.
"Everybody knows he has to play his part and sometimes you play more, sometimes you play less."
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Zimmermann was talking ahead of the 1-1 home draw with Blackburn which brought an end to a run of nine wins on the spin but extended the gap to third-placed Swansea to 14 points, with the Swans having nine games remaining.
The former Borussia Dortmund II defender has made 134 appearances for City since following head coach Daniel Farke to England in 2017, playing a major role in the 2019 title success but having his Premier League campaign mostly ruined by injuries.
He came in for six games in December while Gibson had a calf injury, of which the Canaries won four and the only loss was 1-0 away to promotion rivals Watford on Boxing Day.
One area Zimmermann will no doubt be keen to contribute is at set-pieces, having not scored since a commanding header during the dramatic 2-2 draw with Reading at Carrow Road almost two years ago, but he hopes he has proved a reliable servant for City.
"Talking about myself is difficult because I don't really like to," Zimmermann continued, speaking to City's official OTBC matchday programme.
"But given that I used to play in the fourth tier and now it is my third season in the Championship - and I had one in the Premier League as well - I think there must have been some improvement.
"Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to play as many minutes as I have done and have the number of appearances for Norwich that I have to my name already."
The Borussia Monchengladbach youth product also played for Farke at Dortmund II so is a trusted lieutenant of the City boss, wearing the captain's armband for much of the second half of the successful 2018-19 campaign.
He also spoke about his head coach's ability to make subtle but effective half-time tactical changes, as they both close on a second Championship promotion.
"There have been a couple of games this season. I look at the Wycombe game, how we controlled the second half and created more and more chances just because we changed a little bit at half-time," Zimmermann added.
"Then also at Sheffield Wednesday, we were down 1-0 at half-time and managed to turn the game. When you have a weaker first half and then a much improved second half, you can tell that is a huge part because of the manager's influence.
"This season we have been able to do that on multiple occasions. I have always had the impression that he (Farke) is a very, very smart manager and knows what it takes in each moment to help the team."
Zimmermann's league starts this season
W 1-0 - Huddersfield (a)
D 2-2 - Preston (h)
L 1-0 - Bournemouth (a)
L 1-0 - Derby (h)
W 1-0 - Swansea (h)
W 2-1 - Forest (h)
W 2-1 - Blackburn (a)
W 2-1 - Reading (a)
W 2-0 - Cardiff (h)
L 1-0 - Watford (a)
D 1-1 - QPR (h)
W 1-0 - Rotherham (h)
W 3-1 - Birmingham (a)
P13 W8 D2 L3 F17 A10 Pts26