FOOTBALL RETURNS: The fight for survival resumes as Norwich host Southampton


‘Project Restart’ is underway as football attempts to find its feet within the new normal. For Norwich City, it begins on Friday night as they welcome Southampton to an empty Carrow Road.

Where they stand

While Daniel Farke isn’t the type of manager to read the riot act to his side, there can be no disguising the significance of the fixture to Norwich and in their search of completing, in Farke’s words, a “little miracle.”

Languishing bottom of the league, six points from safety, Farke understands they need points and fast, especially with games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to come.

Meanwhile, Southampton are set to embark on a fairly serine end to the season. The approaching seas look a lot calmer for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men after a renaissance in form over the festive period and since. The feel good factor has certainly returned to the south coast, with Hasenhuttl signing a brand-new four-year-deal at the start of the month.

The nine game mini-season also gives Saints an opportunity to address their embarrassing home form, having already recorded their worst season at St Mary’s, losing nine matches at home.

Team News

Sam Byram (thigh) and Onel Hernandez (knee) continue as long-term absentees for the Canaries after the pair picked up their respective injuries in February. Both are ruled out until mid-July.

Southampton will be without Shane Long for the arduous 24-hour round trip to Carrow Road after the striker reported a muscle problem in training. Long, who also signed a new deal recently, has returned to training with the group and is set to be fit for the home clash against Arsenal next week. Moussa Djenepo remains suspended following his straight red in their previous game against Newcastle, way back in March.

James Ward-Prowse will captain the side for the clash after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was forced to relinquish armband duties. The Danish international was stripped of the captaincy amid interest from Tottenham and Everton. Hojbjerg has one year left on his current contract and has reportedly stalled in signing a new one.

Hasenhuttl said: “I told him (Hojbjerg), ‘If you do not extend your contract, you cannot captain anymore this team. He was very professional. He understands it absolutely. We wanted to make a clear decision before the first game. That’s the reason why we made the decision very quickly.”

“If you want to be the captain, the leader of the team, you must be someone who is also here next season. There are no concerns about whether he should play or not – he knows he’s an important player for us. He still has a contract with this club and as long as he’s here, he’ll be a very important player for this team.”

Norwich host Southampton on Friday night at 18.00 GMT, live on Sky Sports.


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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