Norwich City (4-5-1): Marshall; Velasco, Camara, Shackell, Doherty; Croft, Fotheringham, Russell, Pattison, Bertrand; Dublin. Subs (not used): Gilks, Pearce, Cureton, Gibbs, Evans.
City boss Glenn Roeder may have made two changes to the side that dug out such a creditable 1-1 draw away at promotion hopefuls Watford on Tuesday night, but it was the one change to the formation that was likely to prove the biggest talking point pre-match.
For whilst Jason Shackell's return to the manager's starting line-up was heralded by his 20-minute run out at Vicarage Road at the expense of on-loan Reading teenager Alex Pearce and Darel Russell's re-appearance after his three-match ban was no real surprise, what was the sight of both Ched Evans and Jamie Cureton on the bench.
For with Darren Huckerby by home in Norfolk still nursing his sore grain, that all but ensured that ex-Sky Blues hero Dion Dublin would be ploughing a loney furrow up-front, with the returning Russell presumeably given the licence to bomb on as often as possible as Matty Pattison and Mark Fotheringham held the midfield fort behind him.
Though a full explanation would have to wait until the post-match Press conference, one possible reason for the new-look formation could come in Coventry's preferred shape – 4-5-1 – with new boss Chris Coleman leaving Leon Best alone up top with Kevin Thornton handed the Russell 'free' role in the hole behind.
The trick for Roeder would, therefore, to contain for the early period and then look to shift his forces later in the game with either Evans or Cureton arriving to provide the extra firepower.
Of the loans, young Reading winger James Henry was again the one to miss out as Cureton, Pearce and Evans were joined by Arsenal starlet Kieran Gibbs on the bench.
For the Sky Blues – desperate to start to ease their own relegation worries with victory this afternoon – there was one instantly recognisable face in the shape of ex-Canary keeper Andy Marshall.
Nine times out of ten, the man who crossed the great divide and joined Ipswich Town on a free has a stormer against his one-time employers. Whether this afternoon would be any different would be for the next 90 minutes to decide.
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