City complete the fourth and final leg of their London openers tomorrow lunch-time when they play host to newly-promoted West Ham United.
Chris Hughton’s Canaries have already faced Fulham and Tottenham away and entertained QPR this season – emerging with much credit from the latter two outings.
Tomorrow – in their first live game of the new campaign – City will be eagerly hoping to deliver their first Premier League win of the summer; buoyed by the knowledge that Hammers’ new signing Andy Carroll will be out for up to six weeks with the hamstring injury sustained in the 23-year-old eye-catching debut against Fulham following his season-log switch from Liverpool.
Cue a return for Carlton Cole up front with boss Sam Allardyce hoping that the one-time Chelsea star can rediscover last season’s Championship form and not be overly upset about the arrival of Carroll in his stead.
“He is an obvious replacement and we would like Carlton to do how he finished off last season,” Allardyce told SkySports, ahead of the lunchtime clash tomorrow.
Given the form that City new-boy Sabastien Bassong appears to be in, Cole for Carroll would – on paper – appear to be a decent break as far as the home side are concerned.
That said, Hammers have a new supply line to call upon in the shape of ex-Wolves winger Matt Jarvis, who arrived in the recent window for the sum of £10.75 million – a figure that might come close, if not beat, Hughton’s total summer spend.
Tomorrow, however, all eyes will be on Cole; can he knock Bassong and Co out of their stride and dent Norwich’s hopes of a first three points?
“We would like him to step in and start scoring the goals he did towards the back-end of last season,” added Allardyce. “We hope he can hit the goal-scoring trail when he gets the opportunity on Saturday.”
Hughton certainly wasn’t breathing a sigh of relief at the Cole for Carroll swap.
“West Ham have a very strong squad,” the City chief told the club’s official website, having watched with interest as Allardyce brought in 11 fresh faces over the summer window. Bagging the £35 million England international for a season off Liverpool was the one that stole all the headlines; particularly after Carroll made such an instant impact in the win over Fulham.
Or at least until his hamstring went twang and give Cole the chance to step up to the plate again.
“Carlton Cole is the player that played the three games before Andy Carroll arrived, and did an extremely good job,” added Hughton. “He’s as difficult an opponent as Andy Carroll would be, and it will be a strong opposition, who have had a very good start.
“But we are at home and we’ll always endeavour to get that win and we’ll certainly be working hard to do that.”
The City chief could go into the contest unchanged from the side that delivered such a good performance against Spurs a fortnight ago. Despite missing Scotland’s World Cup adventures, right-back Russell Martin is back in training while the globe-trotting Simeon Jackson is also back in the fold after travelling to Panama and back with Canada.
Whether Hughton opts to throw late loan signing Harry Kane into the fray if Jackson’s travels have taken too much out of him remains to be seen; Jacob Butterfield appears a game or two away from making his grand entrance.
In centre midfield, Norwegian international Alexander Tettey may also have to bide him time given the level of performance that the pairing of Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson delivered at White Hart Lane.
All, in fairness, appears set very fair for an intriguing contest for the Sky cameras. Emerge from their first four games with five, big points on the board and most will deem that to be a more than solid start by the new Hughton adninistration.
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