Poll: Which striker should start for Norwich City at Newcastle United?
10:47 05 October 2015
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The battle for supremacy in Norwich City’s front-line cranked up a notch at the weekend when Dieumerci Mbokani scored his first goal for the Canaries. Is the big striker now ready for his first Premier League start?
That is the question we are putting to City supporters today as we assess the forward options available to manager Alex Neil following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Leicester.
Mbokani was introduced in the 59th minute of that game and in less than 10 minutes had headed an effort against the crossbar and pulled a goal back with a deft flick from a Jonny Howson cross in the 68th minute.
The 29-year-old Dynamo Kiev loanee was unable to find an equaliser but caused the Foxes defence plenty of problems and is now pushing hard for a start when City return to action at Newcastle after the international break.
Cameron Jerome has been Neil’s starting striker in seven of City’s eight league matches so far this campaign, scoring one goal, in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth at Carrow Road – although also controversially saw a spectacular effort ruled out in the opening-day 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace.
The powerful 28-year-old linked nicely with Wes Hoolahan in the early stages against Leicester but blasted his shot over and arguably should have had a penalty in the second half after being dragged down by Robert Huth.
Has the man whose 21 goals took the Canaries back to the Premier League done enough to keep his place though?
Kyle Lafferty has also re-emerged to push his claims as a top-flight striker after an excellent Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with Northern Ireland.
The tall 28-year-old was given his fresh chance by Neil in the recent 3-0 win over West Brom in the third round of the Capital One Cup, coming on for Mbokani in the 76th minute and scoring as well as helping to force an own goal.
Only Poland striker Robert Lewandowski (10 goals in eight games) and Germany’s Thomas Muller (eight in even) have scored more in Euro 2016 qualifiers, with Lafferty tied on seven goals with England’s Wayne Rooney, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Edin Dzeko and Russia’s Artem Dzyuba.
Lafferty’s admirable attitude in choosing to stay and try to persuade Neil of his worth has won him plenty of praise and he put in plenty of effort after being introduced in the 77th minute against Leicester, without going close to scoring.
Lewis Grabban, who was left out of the matchday squad on Saturday after picking up a minor ankle injury, has started two games and appeared in another two as a substitute but is yet to score this season.
The 27-year-old was fined and suspended earlier in the season after going AWOL ahead of City’s cup clash at Rotherham as he seemingly tried to force through a transfer to Bournemouth late in the transfer window.
Grabban scored 12 goals in 36 games during City’s promotion campaign, can he play a big role again this season?
The choice looks to be among those four for now, with Gary Hooper due to return to full training at the end of the international break as he recovers from an ankle injury, but who would you choose to start against Newcastle?
With the Canaries regularly starting with one striker, with Wes Hoolahan playing just behind, so far this season we have based the poll on that 4-2-3-1 formation.
Cast your vote in the poll above and leave your comments below – and see tomorrow’s Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News for the results.