When it comes to Celtic (a), there is probably no such thing as a pre-season friendly. Welcome to Paradise…Tue 24 Jul 12 by Rick Waghorn
Canary old boy Fraser Forster has warned his fellow Celtic Bhoys to expect a tough challenge at Celtic Park this evening as Norwich renew their fond acquaintance with the green half of Glasgow.
City lost their opening pre-season game of the summer to Hertha Berlin on Saturday; tonight manager Chris Hughton continues to stick to Paul Lambert’s pre-arranged summer schedule with the return ‘leg’ of the Celtic ‘double-header’ – the first match being, of course, Adam Drury’s Testimonial Match.
In which Forster figured large – as he will again this evening.
And whilst the Canaries may still be some two weeks behind their Scottish hosts in terms of pre-season preparations, the Bhoys No1 knows all-too well about the challenge the Scottish Premier League champions face.
“It will be a good game for us to play in and it will be a good test,” Forster told the club’s official website today.
City will go into battle minus an injured David Fox and with Steve Morison looking to make his first competitive outing of the summer after sitting out the Hertha clash with a slight knock.
But with James Vaughan up and running with both goals in that 3-2 defeat and new-boy Steven Whittaker likely to make his presence felt following his summer exit from crisis-torn Rangers, Norwich have more than enough early wind in their sails to give the SPL giants a testing run-out.
“It will be important we turn up and play because it will be a tough game. We saw that in the Testimonial,” added Forster. “Even though it was only a friendly, they’ve still got some very good players.”
And a new manager keen to assess just what playing resources he has at his disposal; likewise for the players, tonight’s contest at ‘Paradise’ is one in which they will all be keen to shine.
Of all the pre-season friendlies, this might be more ‘keenly’ contested than most; the Bhoys will not wish to repeat events at Carrow Road back on home turf; manager Neil Lennon doesn’t take any defeat lightly and will be keen to show the Celtic Faithful that all is well ahead of the new SPL season. And the small matter of their Champions League qualifying campaign.
It is not, in short, A N Other meaningless friendly; however friendly the two sets of supporters might be getting.
“I’m sure Chris Hughton will have got them all going and it’s important for them to start the season well,” confirmed Forster, who knows the new City chief from his own time at Newcastle United.
“I think there will be a bit of pressure on us playing at home too, so we will have to go out and play well.”
City boss Hughton was clearly looking forward to this evening’s run out as Norwich’s summer starts to build in momentum. Celtic Park is, he said, the kind of venue that you want to be playing your football in. And Celtic will be out in force tonight numbers-wise.
“It is a magnificent place and they are the sort of arenas you want to go to as a professional,” said the Canary chief, speaking after this weekend’s opening defeat. The fact that City came through it with pretty much a full squad intact was the biggest bonus as the warm-up games start to come thick and fast.
“We’ve got a nice programme of games to get us ready for the Premier League and that of course is the priority,” he told the Eastern Daily Press.
“But whenever you go to a ground like Celtic you know you are in for a tough game, whether it is a friendly or not.”