THE LOWDOWN: All you need to know ahead of Brentford v Norwich City
Get in the mood for Norwich City’s first match of 2019 with key facts, quotes and preview video ahead of the Canaries game at Brentford (3pm kick-off).
FROM THE DUGOUTS
Daniel Farke – Norwich
“They have perhaps fixed their problems with adapting and defending, and we don’t have to speak about their offensive qualities with players like (Ollie) Watkins, (Neal) Maupay – who is there with goals and six assists, so outstanding.
“Brentford is a tough place to go, this team on a good day can beat each and every opponent, and could even be close to the promotion ranks. Okay they have slipped away a bit in the table and it will be difficult for them to make a late push for the play-offs, because there is already a gap, but they have the potential to do this. We know it will be an unbelievably difficult game and we have to be at our best.”
Thomas Frank – Brentford
“We are getting closer and closer to a team who loves to defend together and that’s the mindset we need because we know the offensive quality is there and we are building momentum now.
“Better quality, better possession, you could see first half what we can create and the more games, the better we will get.”
There are no fresh injury worries for the Canaries but Daniel Farke will make late decisions on the fitness of some of his players ahead of a fourth game in 11 games days, with the distraction of an FA Cup third round tie with Portsmouth to follow on Saturday.
Jamal Lewis (hamstring), Moritz Leitner and Mei Buendia (both ankle) are all out until at least mid-January, Kenny McLean could feature in the FA Cup but long-term injury victims Louis Thompson, Carlton Morris and Matt Jarvis are still being eased back into full training.
South African midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo could come back into contention after being rested for the Bees’ 0-0 draw at Birmingham on Saturday.
Sergi Canos returned to the starting XI for that game and will be hoping to face his former club, but Wales international defender Chris Mepham has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury.
Midfielders Lewis Macleod (hamstring) and Emiliano Marcondes (ankle) are still making their way back from injury.
Joint top scorer in the division, with City striker Teemu Pukki and Sheffield United star Billy Sharp, on 15 goals so far. The 22-year-old Frenchman already has six assists as well and has been linked with Premier League interest from Huddersfield in recent days.
Stepped up from his role as assistant when head coach Dean Smith left for Aston Villa in October and only picked up two wins from his first 13 games, but now unbeaten in three. Formerly in charge at Brondby, during Teemu Pukki’s time with the Danish club, and now has the chance to show what he can do in the Championship.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Gavin Ward (Surrey)
Has shown 66 yellow cards in 22, mostly Championship, matches so far this season and sent off just one player. Took charge of City’s home wins over Preston and Wigan earlier in the campaign, awarding a late penalty which was dispatched by Mario Vrancic against Wigan, but yet to officiate a Brentford game.