TEAM NEWS: Latest from City boss on Cantwell, Normann, Rashica and Gilmour

David Freezer

David Freezer | 11 Jan 2022, 15:08

Norwich City’s trip to Wolves in the FA Cup could provide the ideal opportunity to get some injured players back to full fitness, including Mathias Normann.

Centre-backs Andrew Omobamidele (back) and Christoph Zimmermann (ankle) are also working their way back to full fitness and won’t be in contention for tomorrow night’s Premier League game at West Ham. 

The fourth-round tie is set for the weekend of February 4-7, with the date not yet confirmed. 

“Yeah, hopefully,” head coach Dean Smith said of those prospective returns. “They’ll be pushing for that game.  

“It’s great to have that game because, as everyone knows, in this period it’s very difficult to get minutes into players and arrange friendlies during the Covid period.” 

Specifically on Norway midfielder, who has been absent for seven matches, Smith added: “I don’t know, I haven’t actually sat down with our medical staff just yet. He’s been post-op for about two weeks now, he’s jogging, which is good, and he’s pain free so hopefully he can push on from there.” 

More immediately, Smith reported no fresh Covid-19 concerns but provided an update on the injury of midfielder Billy Gilmour. 

“Lukas Rupp (hamstring) is still out, Billy Gilmour has got a high ankle injury so that’s probably going to put him out for three to four weeks,” he said ahead of the West Ham clash. 

“He’s going back to Chelsea for them to assess it and I’m hopeful then he’ll be back for his treatment and rehab over the next few days. 

“Other than that, there are no fresh injuries from the weekend.” 

With Gilmour believed to have already passed the number of minimum appearances to avoid Chelsea being able to recall him this month, Smith still expects the Scotland international to remain with the Canaries. 

Asked if the injury could lead to a recall, he said: “No, I don’t believe so. I don’t think the injury is significant enough for that.  

“I believe it’s an injury that will be assessed by Chelsea, he’ll be sent back to us and hopefully in the next three weeks he’ll be back playing.” 

Todd Cantwell missed Sunday’s game at Charlton due to illness and with speculation swirling that clubs including Newcastle and Leicester are interested in signing the attacking midfielder this month, Smith said the 23-year-old should be involved on Wednesday. 

“There’s been no developments at all,” he said. “Todd has been ill, that’s why he wasn’t in the squad at the weekend, he didn’t train on Monday as he was still feeling ill. 

“I expect him to train today and to be in the squad.” 

City brought an end to five consecutive defeats without scoring when they laboured to a 1-0 win away to League One side Charlton in the FA Cup on Sunday. 

Asked if that had lifted the mood at Colney, Smith continued: “A little bit. The boys came in just on a recovery session on Monday, with this game coming so quickly, but a win is a win – as they say in any sport – and that’s what Sunday was for us. 

“We needed to break that cycle, it wasn’t the most fluent of performances but watching the game back, on reflection, there was a lot that I didn’t like. 

“But we created the better chances and got into the hat for the next round, that will give the lads some confidence, but also that the likes of Teemu Pukki, Tim Krul, Grant Hanley and Milot Rashica have gone and got some minutes to go into this really important period that we’ve got coming up.” 

With skipper Hanley (shoulder) and winger Rashica (groin) returning to action against Charlton, with Rashica scoring the winner to notch his first goal for the club, both are back in full contention. 

“I spoke to both yesterday and they both felt better than they expected to, having not played for a while, which was good,” Smith said. 

“Milot got 52 minutes and Grant the full game. They were at different stages anyway, Grant had less time out and could train a couple of times, whereas Milot trained a little bit less. 

“So it would be folly of me to think Milot could go and play 90 minutes against West Ham.” 

Asked if that meant a start against high-flying West Ham could be too soon, he added: “I’m hopeful he can start. He was a little bit stiff after the game obviously, but he’ll put himself in the window to start the game, that’s for sure. 

“It would be silly for more to expect 90 minutes from him, but he’s certainly held his hand up to say he can start.” 

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