Chris Hughton’s Canaries return to Carrow Road action tonight with a second round Capital One Cup tie against Scunthorpe United – and, rarely, can opportunity have knocked so loudly for a simple and straight-forward progression to the third round.
All of which will merely get the Faithful rather mpre convinced that this evening’s clash with the Iron will still, somehow, end in tears. City’s cup history of late is littered with early exits.
But given Scunthorpe arrive in Norfolk without a point to their name at the foot of League One and all on the back of a 4-0 home defeat on Saturday to Yeovil Town, surely – surely – City will progress smoothly this time?
Iron boss Alan Knill certainly cut something of a disconsolate figure at Glandford Park this weekend as he tried to explain away a defensive horror show that left the club still scratching around for their first point.
“We know we’ve got some good players,” said Knill. “But we’re about average at the moment without the ball.
“With the ball we’re allright, it’s just without it – we’re not very good and we don’t look like we’re going to stop the opposition from scoring.”
All of which should have the likes of Steve Morison and Chrissy Martin pricking up their ears as Hughton promises to utilise his squad to the full for tonight’s Capital One opener.
With the prospect of a testing trip to White Hart Lane looming in the Premier League this weekend, both skipper Grant Holt and scorer Simeon Jackson could find themselves rested and ‘rotated’ out of the fray.
Likewise in midfield where Hughton told supporters to expect a first competitive outing for David Fox after his frustrating summer sidelined by injury.
“David Fox will be involved, and I will certainly be making significant changes,” the City chief told the club’s official website.
With Jacob Butterfield making an appearance in an Under-21 game and new signing Alexander Tettey sat in the stands watching the Rangers game unfold, so Hughton’s quest for competition for places appears to be gathering pace.
Fox will have everything to prove tonight if he wishes to force his way into Hughton’s starting plans; ditto Andrew Surman – another of those wishing to catch the manager’s eye as City’s second season in the top flight starts to gather pace.
“David has been involved in two development games, and played almost 90 minutes in the last one,” said Hughton. “It’s good to see him back, and it’s a shame that he missed the start of pre-season.”
The trick now was to use this evening’s game can bring everyone up to speed match fitness-wise – and keep the players guessing as to who will get the nod for White Hart Lane.
“The league cup is a good opportunity for us, and we’ll use the competition that we’ve got in the squad,” added Hughton.
“We have real competition for places. If you look at our first two games, there have been changes, We’ve got a healthy squad without too many injuries, and I’ll be using the squad for our benefit.”
The one player unlikely to figure is Tettey as the club wait on his international clearance following Friday night’s switch from Rennes.
The powerfully-built midfielder may have to wait until the weekend before making his City debut.
“At this moment Alex’s international clearance has not come through,” said Hughton.
“I think it’ll be very close, but we’re not expecting it to come through in time, which is a shame because it would have been a good introduction for him to English football, but I don’t think it will happen but he will of course be available for the weekend against Tottenham.”