New City winger Simon Whaley will top up his game-time again tonight as the Canaries travel to Selhurst Park for their penultimate pre-season game of the summer.
The 24-year-old former Preston star managed to get 45 minutes under his belt in the 1-1 draw with a Manchester United XI on Saturday; tonight and further opportunity knocks against Neil Warnock's Palace outfit – one that comes complete with a certain A Lee at its head.
With just Saturday's home clash with Premiership Wigan Athletic to come, this evening's trip to South London will find Canary boss Bryan Gunn pinning down a few more places in his starting line-up for the Colchester United clash in 11 days time.
Whaley looks one of the few certain starters – fitness permitting after his protracted medical in the run-up to his switch to Carrow Road picked up more than everyone had bargained for.
Saturday's opening 45 minutes in a City shirt will, therefore, have come as a major relief to all concerned; more minutes tonight and again against the Latics on Saturday should calm the last of those fitness jitters.
“There was an injury picked up on the MRI scan which even I didn't know about,” reported Whaley, speaking ahead of this weekend's Carrow Road entrance.
“So I went to see a consultant and the time between seeing the consultant and getting the results was obviously a worrying time,” said the Bury-born wide-man, fresh from agreeing that two-year deal and arriving in Norfolk as Lee Croft's heir apparent.
Having cut something of a swathe through Championship defences, was he confident that he could make an even bigger splash in League One?
“I don't want to blow my own trumpet,” he said. “But I think the rest of the team as well – as a club – can make a massive impact on League One and, hopefully, we can have the conversation again when we've got promoted.”
On Saturday Whaley found himself locked in combat for that right-midfield slot with the re-signed Paul McVeigh. Tonight will be interesting as to who gets the nod to start; Whaley – if he is to figure larger against the Us – ought to be due an hour.
Otherwise, positions across the park remain up for grabs with central midfield looking particularly intriguing following Tom Adeyemi's eye-catching efforts against that young United XI.
Gunn admitted afterwards that the 17-year-old's composure and athleticism in that key slot – not to mention his crisply-taken opener – had given him “a problem”.
For with Matt Gill, Owain Tudur Jones and now Stephen Hughes in the building, the Canary chief has an abundance of riches at his disposal.
If only for fitness reasons, Hughes might be the one with the work to do as he stayed at Colney today to top up his fitness levels. He is, however, expected to feature in Norwich's final dress rehearsal against the Latics on Saturday.
At the back and the fact that Gunn has laid an offer of a City deal on the table of Danish centre-half Jens Berkel Askou suggests that everything is likewise up for grabs; that new club captain Gary Doherty and his vice-skipper Michael Nelson might not have the place to themselves.
Youngster David Stephens has impressed in pre-season, while the Canary chief still has the recovering Dejan Stefanovic to factor back into his thinking.
Australian keeper Michael Theoklitos is expected to make his first appearance in a City shirt against the Eagles after his summer was hit by the twin delay of work permit requirements and a niggling hip injury. Both look now to be resolved giving the Australian No1 the chance to keep on loan Spurs prospect Ben Alnwick on the bench come the Us clash.
At right-back, Jon Otsemobor and Michael Spillane will slug it out again; likewise at left-back, Rhoys Wiggins' ongoing rehab work after his summer op will leave Simon Lappin and Adam Drury competing for the nod.
Up front and it would be a case of G Holt and AN Other.
Cody McDonald's claims have been hit by injury; he is, however, due to resume full-time training this week and might make the bench for the Wigan clash.
Gunn also has another triallist up his sleeve in the shape of New Zealand international Kris Bright; Jamie Cureton and Chrissy Martin could also lay reasonable claim to a start against the Us. Both have the next two games in which to make their presence known.
“It'll be a good game,” Gunn told the official site, as all eyes now turned towards Selhurst Park this evening.
“Palace are a strong side and they'll be organised as they always are. They have good fitness levels and they had a great game against Bristol Rovers the other night, which they won 3-0,” he added.
Mr Lee's appearance on centre stage having failed to find himself a way out of South-East London should add a certain something to the night's events; Messrs Doherty, Nelson, Stephens and Co will know that they've been in a 'friendly'.
“Alan's a whole-hearted player and he always gives 100 per cent no matter who he's playing for,” said Gunn. “I'm sure our defenders will be in for a tough game.”
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