Bristol City vs Norwich City Preview: Robins afforded chance to move into automatic promotion spots against Canaries

Bristol City vs Norwich City Preview: Robins afforded chance to move into automatic promotion spots against Canaries

A win for the hosts could send them into second place if other results go their way, while victory for Norwich could keep their play-off hopes alive.

Jack McGraghan

Bristol City host Norwich City in the Championship this Saturday afternoon with the Robins hoping to strengthen their position in the play-off places, while their opponents hope to close the gap on those play-off spots with an away win.

The Robins could move second if Derby lose and Cardiff fail to win while the visitors could close the gap between themselves and the play-offs to six points if they can earn three points at Ashton Gate.

Robins' cup exploits can boost their league performances

Bristol City have been the surprise package not only in the Championship this season, but also in the Carabao Cup with Lee Johnson's side coming agonisingly close to earning a point at Premier League leaders Manchester City in midweek.

Bobby Reid's first-half penalty sent the away fans into delirium before second-half strikes from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero gave the Citizens a first leg advantage.

The fact they came so close to halting an unstoppable Manchester City side will give Bristol City confidence in the Championship however, as they look to bounce back from a 5-0 defeat against Aston Villa in their most recent league game.

Johnson's side have won all but one of their last five home games in all competitions and will be confident heading into Saturday's game, with top scorer Reid looking to add to his 12-goal haul.

The Bristol City boss spoke of transfers and his squad at his pre-match press conference, saying "we'll have a real good squad when we get the injured lads back" and added that he hopes to "get that one or two more in to try and help the group" with Liverpool winger Ryan Kent one of those, joining on loan after Johnson's press conference.

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Canaries hoping their flight path to play-offs is not diverted

Despite languishing in 13th place in the Championship prior to kick-offs, Norwich could sit just six points outside the play-off places come the final whistle on Saturday should they secure all three points.

Daniel Farke's side have been largely inconsistent this season but are unbeaten in their last four in all competitions, most recently in the Emirates FA Cup where they held reigning Premier League champions Chelsea to a goalless draw at Carrow Road.

Victories against Millwall and Birmingham have ensured the play-offs are still within their reach, and the Canaries could make a real statement if they were to win at Ashton Gate for the first time since 2010 this weekend.

Norwich's away form has been less than impressive recently however, losing four of their last six games away from Carrow Road including defeats to fellow play-off hopefuls Leeds United and Cardiff.

Farke spoke of Alex Pritchard's £11m departure at his press conference, saying he was "disappointed" to lose one of his key players to Huddersfield but added "we have to accept this", with the sale sanctioned due to the Canaries' need for funds.

Team news

The hosts are still missing key man Callum O'Dowda due to the ankle injury he sustained at the beginning of December while Famara Diedhiou, Jens Hegeler and Gary O'Neil also miss out.

Norwich will be without midfielder Tom Trybull due to a back injury although Harrison Reed could be a late inclusion in the matchday squad despite lacking match fitness.

Predicted line-ups

Bristol City (4-4-1-1): Fielding; Magnusson, Baker, Flint, Wright; Bryan, Smith, Pack, Brownhill; Paterson; Reid.

Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Gunn; Lewis, Hanley, Klose, Pinto; Tettey, Vrančić; Murphy, Maddison, Watkins, Oliveira.