Norwich City will welcome Coventry City to East Anglia on Saturday afternoon for an all-Championship FA Cup third round tie.
Following a fairly hectic festive period, these two sides will turn their attentions to England’s flagship cup competition. Having lifted the trophy in 1987, Coventry’s supporters would no doubt enjoy seeing their team go close to glory again, while Norwich had a taste of the excitement which the FA Cup brings as recently as last season thanks to their run to the quarter-finals.
It was announced on Friday morning that Norwich’s Tim Krul and Adam Idah had returned positive COVID-19 tests, along with an unnamed member of City’s backroom staff. The pair will miss Saturday’s match as a result and will each need to test negative twice before they can return to team training.
The Canaries also have a number of players sidelined with injuries, including Kieran Dowell, Lukas Rupp, Marco Stiepermann, Josh Martin and Michael McGovern. However, Bali Mumba and Onel Hernandez could both feature after recovering from long-term issues.
Meanwhile, Coventry will be without forward Matty Godden for the trip to Norfolk after he went down with a foot problem last weekend. Additionally, Liam Kelly, Michael Rose and Wesley Jobello all remain out.
Some positive news for the Sky Blues is that midfielder Matty James could be handed his debut after joining the club on loan from Leicester City earlier this week.
Norwich: Barden; Mumba, Zimmermann, Gibson, Quintilla; Tettey, Sorensen; Placheta, Vrancic, McLean; Hugill.
Coventry: Camp; Thompson, McFadzean, Hyam; Dacosta, Allen, James, Giles; O’Hare; Biamou, Bakayoko.
Championship leaders Norwich will approach this cup tie in a confident mood having lost just one of their last eight matches. Last Saturday, they secured a 1-0 home victory over Barnsley thanks to an excellent volley from Emi Buendia. The Canaries’ only defeat at Carrow Road this season came back in October, when they were beaten 1-0 by Derby County.
Coventry ended a four-game winless run by defeating Millwall 2-1 at the Den last weekend. Only two of the Sky Blues’ six league victories so far this term have been collected away from home, but they should feel optimistic ahead of this match having posed Norwich some problems back in November.
Ones to watch
It looks likely that the Canaries will field a heavily-rotated side for Saturday’s game, which means that forward Jordan Hugill should feature in the starting XI.
The 28-year-old has made a total of 17 appearances since joining Norwich last August, but he has started only four league matches, as Teemu Pukki has continued to be the Norfolk club’s first-choice striker.
Pukki is expected to be rested this weekend, so Hugill will undoubtedly be eager to put in a good performance in order to prove his worth to Daniel Farke.
Another centre-forward who will be relishing the prospect of playing from the start in this FA Cup clash is Coventry’s Maxime Biamou.
The Frenchman is midway through his fourth season with the Sky Blues and has played a bit-part role this term, having made the majority of his appearances as a substitute.
Norwich already know of the danger which Biamou poses after he came off the bench and scored to earn Coventry a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in November.
When these two sides met just under two months ago, Mario Vrancic scored from the spot to put the injury-ravaged Canaries ahead, before Biamou’s 89th minute strike ensured that Coventry went back to the West Midlands with a point.
The Sky Blues have not defeated Norwich since February 2009, when a goal from young loanee Jordan Henderson helped them to a 2-1 away victory.
There have been nine previous meetings between the two teams in the FA Cup. The most recent of these came in December 1999, with Coventry running out 3-1 victors.
How to watch
This match will kick off at midday on Saturday January 9 and will be broadcast live on BT Sport Extra 5.
What the managers have said
Despite the fact that two of his players recently tested positive for COVID-19, Norwich head coach Farke feels that games should continue to be played in order to keep the public entertained.
He said: “We have a great responsibility in these times. We're in a privileged role to do our jobs so it would be wrong to complain. During cold months like January, February and March it will still be tricky. It could start to improve when the weather is better and hopefully the vaccine works, so I think come April we'll be in a better position.
“When the country is in such a difficult period you have the responsibility to cheer people up and give them things to speak about. Everyone loves to praise or criticise the team.
“We would accept if the games have to be cancelled, but my gut feeling is we should try everything to go further on and give people something to cheer about. If we can go through this in the way we have so far, we can go further on.”
Having won the FA Cup as a player with Manchester United, Coventry boss Mark Robins is keen for his players to take this weekend’s match seriously.
He stated: “The FA Cup, in isolation, is always a special competition, it just feels slightly different this year from my perspective, the competition itself isn’t any less special, it’s always good to try and get through and pit your wits against teams from different levels.
“We were two leagues apart last year, we’re competing on the pitch against them tomorrow and we’re going to try and get through to the fourth round.
“Every game is important, we’re going into this game with the same anticipation and the same hopes, the players have done so well, I think everybody deserves an enormous amount of credit for the way they’re going about their jobs.”