Norwich City Report Card: Stick or twist is the dilemma for nearly men
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Different backgrounds but the same issue faces Marcel Franke and Sean Raggett. Paddy Davitt assesses how both defenders can catch Daniel Farke’s eye next season, in the latest of our City report card series.
Bob Marley’s classic ‘Waiting in Vain’ summed up a first tour of duty in Norwich colours for Sean Raggett and Marcel Franke.
Both were drafted in as centre backs of huge promise.
Different backgrounds, perhaps, but chasing the same dream higher up the footballing food chain.
Raggett has battled through the non league backwaters to impress in Lincoln City’s eye-catching rise under the Cowley brothers.
Franke arrived from Germany with a bigger reputation, after a solid season at Greuther Furth.
Given he was a regular starter in the opening seven games of Daniel Farke’s reign at Carrow Road it is safe to assume he was expected to be a frontline option.
Raggett returned to Lincoln on loan with a plan to review his situation and progress in League Two midway through the campaign.
It underlines the pace of change and the need to deliver on demand that both ended the season firmly on the outside looking in. Raggett may have been kept in the building on his return from Lincoln but there was only limited involvement in a smattering of cameos from the bench.
Franke found himself back in his homeland, battling to keep boyhood club Dynamo Dresden out of the relegation scrap in the German second tier.
At least Franke got the game-time he was craving after his abrupt removal from Norwich City’s line up following that league hammering at Millwall in August.
Russell Martin’s demotion may have claimed most of the headlines at the New Den, but that was also the last time the 25-year-old featured in the Championship.
There was an eight-minute cameo in the League Cup at Brentford a month later before he was put back in cold storage.
Both defenders will return in pre-season and, barring any unexpected turbulence to Farke’s existing defensive options, find the imposing frames of Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose blocking their path again to the first team.
Farke touched on this game of patience when he was pressed for Raggett’s short term prospects of breaking the cartel towards the end of last season.
“I am much closer to my decision, because I watch him each and every day.
I am totally pleased with his development but he has three centre backs to compete with,” he said, prior to the goalless draw at Preston in mid-April. “Grant, has been outstanding.
Timm is a big leader and Christoph is probably the biggest surprise. There will be no gifts or presents.
“If Hanley is fit and in good shape I wouldn’t leave him out of the squad to play Sean Raggett to see if he is ready for next season. I want the best players on the pitch. We have not had that many injuries in that area of the squad.
It is still up to him to prove it. There will be a chance one day.
“I know that must be tough for Sean, who is used to playing each and every minute but he has to be patient and I feel he has shown he can be patient.”
For Raggett and Franke this is a difficult conundrum.
Do they sit and bide their time and wait for that opportunity to impress or do they look to press their claims away from Carrow Road on loan next season? From Norwich’s perspective, there is little to be gained from two 25-year-olds kicking their heels, should the pecking order at centre back remain unaltered.
Competition is needed to drive Farke’s side forward but City look well-stocked in that area.
And that is without adding Martin himself to this discussion, given he is under contract until 2019.