Dereham relish City challenge

CHRIS LAKEY Dereham boss Rob Taylor is looking forward to an unexpected opportunity for his players today when the Magpies face a Norwich City side at Aldiss Park (3pm).

CHRIS LAKEY

Dereham boss Rob Taylor is looking forward to an unexpected opportunity for his players today when the Magpies face a Norwich City side at Aldiss Park (3pm).

An Academy side was due to make the short trip along the A47 last night, but City made a late request to move the game back so they could field some senior fringe players.

It could be an opportunity for the likes of goalkeeper Matty Gilks and the Jarvis brothers, Ryan and Rossi, to get a run-out, but Taylor is more concerned at his own selection, with major doubts over central defender Adam Gusterson, whose ankle injury could rob him of the chance to play against the club he represented at youth and reserve team level before being released in April last year.

“I haven't been able to field my preferred starting line-up in any of the friendlies,” said Taylor. “There's always someone missing because of holidays, work commitments or being away on a course.”

As well as Gusterson, Craig Terrington is unavailable while James Wilson will be forgiven for tired legs.

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“He is away and won't be back until four in the morning, so he's going to get a few hours sleep and then come and play,” explained Taylor.

Dereham have enjoyed a good pre-season, with just one defeat - against Conference new boys Histon - as Taylor beds in his new players ahead of the Ridgeons League Premier Division kick-off at Leiston next weekend.

Former Wisbech and King's Lynn striker Robbie Harris has joined from Stamford, along with experienced goalkeeper Shaun Marshall, while Ben Darby has come in from Fakenham and Dan Cullington from Norwich United.

“We've got a half decent side coming together,” added Taylor. “We don't have a huge budget to play with, but I would rather work with what I have got and improve them and find success with them that way than go out and just splash money around.

“We've brought Robbie in but I would like to have a big man next to him - unfortunately, the budget is tight and I can't, but we will work it out. We have a lot of good youngsters at the club - last season we had eight under-18s involved and not many teams can say that.”

Dereham finished sixth in the table last season - an improvement on the 12th-place finish in Taylor's first season in charge. This year, big things are expected of a club who only a few years ago looked to be on a downward spiral before the former Manchester City and Wolves striker took charge.

“If we finish higher than sixth it will be a good season, one which shows we are making progress,” Taylor said.

Admission for this afternoon's match is £5, under-14s free.

t City's Under-16s have shone on the European stage to reach the final of an international youth tournament hosted by Austria Vienna.

The young Canaries drew 2-2 with Spartak Moscow and beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to book their place in the last four and then saw off the home side 1-0 to set up a showdown with Hertha Berlin today.