City boss Chris Hughton looks all-but certain to hand ex-Blackburn Rovers keeper Mark Bunn his first Premier League start for the Canaries tonight as Norwich head to Southampton seeking to make it a magnificent seven unbeaten in the Premier League.
Nigel Adkins’ much-improved Saints provide one of those awkward-looking away trips after they completed back-to-back victories in the league with that 2-0 win over Newcastle United at the weekend.
The thigh injury picked up by City’s England international keeper John Ruddy in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Everton looks set to hand Bunn a start as the Canary chief toes a cautionary line with his regular No1.
He has, however, few fears that Bunn won’t rise to the occasion. The summer signing proved his worth in the Capital One Cup success over Spurs – including the last-gasp penalty save to set up the mouth-watering quarter-final home clash with Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa next month.
“Mark’s a good goalkeeper Hughton told resporters as all eyes now turn to the South Coast this evening.
“If it’s a case that he comes in for whatever period of time then we have no fears about that.”
The bottom of the table is certainly starting to look lively as Villa hauled themselves out of the bottom three last night with a huge win over Reading.
But with Southampton finding form and QPR now hoping that Harry’s magic dust can revive their fortunes, so attention now turns to the likes of Sunderland and Wigan – plus Newcastle, whose season is failing to hit last year’s heights.
Given the above, games against first Southampton and then Sunderland this week offer a real opportunity for Hughton’s men to keep themselves out of the dog fight below.
And having done the hard work against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United at home and now Everton away, all concerned will be desperately hoping that form and fortune continue to work to Norfolk’s advantage – and leave others to face the festive period stuck in the mire.
Norwich will also have to make do without the services of centre-half Michael Turner whose shoulder injury rules him out of tonight’s trip to St Mary’s and – in every likelihood – the weekend with his old employers, Sunderland.
England Under-21 defender Ryan Bennett deputised at the weekend; he is likely to continue alongside Sebastien Bassong this evening.
“We’re assessing Michael and we are hoping it will not be a while,” said Hughton, when quizzed about the state and extent of the 29-year-old’s shoulder woes.
“It is certainly not going to be a longer-term one but possibly a matter of weeks. Whether he has any chance for Saturday, I don’t know at this stage.”
On the plus side Russell Martin is available again after his recent back trouble. He, however, is likely to start on the bench following Steven Whittaker’s recent run of games in the right-back berth.