Can Norwich City’s midfield cope with Alex Tettey’s suspension?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City fans knew it was coming.
It was only a matter of time before Alex Tettey picked up his 10th yellow card of the season and therfore incurring a two-match ban.
Ever since he picked up his ninth yellow in the 2-2 draw at Southampton, the Norwegian has been walking the proverbial tightrope and never looked likely to make the March 12 amnesty when all bookings are wiped from the slate for the season in the Football League.
So Yousouf Mulumbu couldn't have timed his return from the African Nations Cup any better, could he?
A lot will depend on Mulumbu's exertions with Congo but frankly the luxury of easing him back into the Championship fray was removed the moment referee Craig Kavanagh penalised Tettey for a late tackle on Cardiff's Jazz Richards on Saturday.
If Mulumbu is fit, he plays – it's as simple as that.
Against a backdrop of Graham Dorrans and Louis Thompson being sidelined for significant periods, Alex Neil has just one senior midfielder to consider heading to the DW Stadium when he thinks about who best to partner Jonny Howson.
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The City boss admitted to being mindful of his dearth of options in the engine room last month and considered bringing in former Reading midfielder Jem Karacan on a short term contract.
The 28-year-old, who was released by Galatasaray at the start of January, was training with Norwich and played in the club's Under-23s' match at Portsmouth.
However, no deal has been forthcoming and it appears Neil is content go with what he has, which places an emphasis on Mulumbu to prove himself again, at least in the next two games against Wigan and Nottingham Forest.
Mulumbu's last appearance for the Canaries came against Brentford in the 0-0 draw on New Year's Eve and the former West Brom man has shown signs this season of finally adapting to life at Carrow Road.
But should Mulumbu not be fit to play, what are City's options?
Ben Godfrey showed he can do a solid job in central midfield in the FA Cup replay defeat at Southampton although Neil has admitted to seeing the former York City man's future in defence.
The decision was taken for James Maddison to stay at Norwich rather than pursue another loan period but is probably a little too offensive in this thinking to be genuinely considered as an replacement for Tettey.
Neil infamously selected Steven Whittaker in midfield early on in his tenure against Brentford but anyone who saw that game will be hoping he doesn't try that again.
City fans will be hoping Mulumbu can prove his fitness and help the club build on their recent mini-revival.