Xavi Quintilla looks to be out for the foreseeable future, with returning to Villareal very much a possibility. With the January window still weeks away and City’s injury crisis worsening, what options does Daniel Farke have?
Recall Sam McCallum
The most obvious solution on first glance is to recall Sam McCallum from his season-long Coventry City loan. McCallum struggled at times during pre-season and in the Canaries’ League Cup exit at Luton, but with ten Championship games under his belt will likely be more comfortable with the level.
His return would incur a small fee and wouldn’t be possible until the January window opens, leaving Daniel Farke with a problem to solve for another nine games. Norwich would, however, be getting a player who’s already been integrated into the first-team setup at a lesser expense than a short-term loan.
Noises from the club suggest they’re reluctant to do this, but with the situation worsening every game and £3.5million already invested in McCallum, they may view this as the safe option.
Bring in another new signing
Perhaps the most conventional option is simply to sign another left-back. Short-term a loan may be the best solution, although that assumes McCallum will be Premier League ready by next season (not getting ahead of myself, the club plans for every eventuality).
Long-term, a combination of McCallum and Quintilla was the plan at the start of the season, but the latter’s expected permanent switch will be less than likely if his City loan is cut short.
This would suggest a permanent signing may be the solution but with the Canaries’ league status likely to be firmly in the balance in January finding a player that is committed to the club in both the Premier League and Championship may be difficult, and paying for a player that could significantly contribute to top tier survival may prove costly if promotion isn’t achieved.
A loan agreement similar to Quintilla’s original deal (with a buy option) may prove the safest method of recruitment and is a format Stuart Webber is clearly happy with given it was also how he secured Ben Gibson’s signature.
Try Ben Gibson at left-back
With Christoph Zimmerman back this becomes an option, with left-footed Gibson possible cover at full-back. The former Burnley man is by no means experienced on the flank but would be on his natural side where Sorensen isn’t, and is a sturdy defensive option if not spectacular driving down the wing.
His impressive partnership with Grant Hanley would be missed, however, and Farke will be reluctant to change a defence that’s performed well so far.
Throw Nizet in at the deep end
Rob Nizet was a name that came into the collective consciousness of Norwich City fans last Monday when he scored a brace from left-back for the Under-23s. The 18-year-old, a Belgian youth international, was acquired from Anderlecht in the summer of 2019 and has pinned down his spot in the starting eleven of a youth side that is flying in Premier League 2.
Farke and co. may be reluctant to use such an inexperienced player at this crucial time in the season, but would do well to remember how the emergence of a certain Max Aarons started.
It’s also worth noting that Jacob Sorensen, the current solution to the left-back problem, had played a total of zero minutes in that position at any level before the huge Brentford game in which he was started there.
Continue with Jacob Sorensen
And on the note of Sorensen, he’s not done a bad job at left-back. He’s contributed to three clean sheets in the eight games he’s played, and has been an assured presence on the ball, offering a different dynamic to the driving runs of Aarons on the opposite side.
However, Championship sides are starting to target Sorensen as a weak link in a strong Norwich team, as proven when Swansea moved star man Andre Ayew out wide specifically to go up against the Dane. He struggled in the drab loss at Kenilworth Road and after giving away the second goal looks almost less comfortable with every game.
Many feel he’s earned a start in his favoured central midfield position and probably would’ve got one in the recent games had a left-back alternative been found. He’s a useful option in the meantime but will feel he’s being held back while the solution is looked for.