When attempting to mitigate the poor run of form his struggling Norwich City team are going through, David Wagner has mostly stuck to one explanation: injuries.

The under-fire head coach has highlighted the impacts of missing players on multiple occasions, explaining how Josh Sargent's absence has been detrimental and bemoaning his lack of options in recent months. He's even gone as far as describing it as a 'crisis', and cited its role in Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones' understanding stance on his predicament.

In reality, the Canaries have suffered little more than almost every single league club will go through this season, with only six first-team players currently unavailable. One of those is young goalkeeper Daniel Barden, who hasn't played for City since early 2021 and is comfortably third, if not fourth, choice between the sticks.

That number also includes Adam Forshaw, who has only started two league games for Norwich, the last of which being a poor performance and subsequent half-time substitution at Sunderland. It also includes Jacob Sorensen, who would have been likely to see similar levels of game time as understudy to Gabriel Sara and Kenny McLean.

Eastern Daily Press: David Wagner has largely blamed Norwich City's poor form on injuriesDavid Wagner has largely blamed Norwich City's poor form on injuries (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

It does include club captain Grant Hanley, and the Scot's presence has truly been missed in the leakiest defence the Championship has to offer. It also features Josh Sargent, statistically the most effective Championship striker before the long-term ankle issue he sustained at Huddersfield.

Throw Ben Gibson into the mix and it's undeniable that injuries have hindered Wagner, but it's hard to really claim that they constitute a crisis.

There's also the question of where his own abilities come in, with the mark of a good tactician surely being their ability to mould a competitive team from what's available to them. Even aside from the short-term game-to-game changes he can make, a good coach is able to improve their players.

But the injury issues present at Carrow Road have done more to highlight Wagner's stubbornness than his ability to adapt. When asked if his team would play differently to accommodate Adam Idah and Hwang Ui-jo instead of Sargent and Ashley Barnes, the 52-year-old stated that nothing would change but personnel.

The good news for Wagner, and more broadly for City, is that Barnes is expected to return for next Saturday's meeting with Queens Park Rangers in NR1. He may not reach his absolute best without partner in crime Sargent, but he'll bring a level of hold-up play absent in the aforementioned striking competition.

Also set to return is first-choice keeper Angus Gunn, who perhaps has become more appreciated in his absence. There have been no glaring errors from stand-in George Long, but the Scot's shot-stopping abilities have been missed and his cool head in possession yearned for.

With Marcelino Nunez back in the mix and players such as Borja Sainz available after early-season troubles, claims of a crisis will now die down. There are few excuses left in Wagner's attempts to save his side's season.

Although it'll likely be the new year before they're back to full strength, he has enough to rise up the table from the measly 16th they currently occupy. Hanley is expected to return to contention shortly after Barnes and Gunn, with a golden opportunity for the Norfolk side to make it consecutive wins at home against the Championship's second-bottom side.

That win in South Wales appears to have seen Wagner past the dreaded 40-game mark that brought an end to his spells at Schalke and Young Boys, but the pressure will be right back on him if they fail to emerge victorious against the Hoops.

In previous weeks there may have been mitigation, but that's fading away, and the rightful expectation for this City side to perform remains.