Another goal for Drmic - could City striker earn Euros recall?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City striker Josip Drmic scored his fourth goal in five games for loan club Rijeka, to keep alive his hopes of earning a Switzerland recall ahead of this summer's European Championship.
The former Nuremberg and Leverkusen forward was in Croatian Cup semi-final action on Wednesday evening and sparked a fightback which fell short, losing 3-2 away to top-flight rivals Istra.
Drmic controlled a pass on his chest on the edge of the box and spun sharply in the 53rd minute, with his low shot deflecting in off the post, to continue an upturn in personal form.
The disappointing cup defeat came on the back of a four-game winning streak in the league for Rijeka, which has left them four points short of a Europa League qualification spot with eight games remaining.
For the Canaries outcast, it all makes for an encouraging spell after years of regular injury problems and being seen as surplus to requirements at Norwich following Premier League relegation, which included a red card for a frustrated tackle late in the season.
The 28-year-old has actually scored six goals in the eight games he has started so far this season if you include the two Canaries under-23 games he played in September as he tried to find a new club - from a total of 14 games when appearances as a substitute for his loan club are included.
After being eased into action initially, Drmic has now started the last six matches for Rijeka, having spoken about his dream of forcing his way back into international contention.
The City loanee has scored 10 goals in 35 matches for Switzerland, including two World Cup campaigns, helping his country reach the last-16 of the finals in 2014 and 2018.
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However, his last appearance was in October 2019 and was followed by the hamstring injury which kept him out for two months of the Canaries' Premier League campaign, during which he managed a total of three goals in 24 games in all competitions.
He has strong forward rivals for a place in the Swiss squad though, led by Benfica striker Haris Seferovic, who has scored 20 goals and has been a regular starter domestically and in the Europa League for the Portuguese giants.
Seferovic is joined by Borussia Monchengladbach's Breel Embolo, who has started regularly in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season, although only has four goals to his name so far.
They both started victories over Bulgaria and Lithuania at the start of World Cup qualification last month and were replaced by substitutes playing regularly at good levels as well.
Mario Gavranovic is also playing in Croatia and has scored 15 goals for league leaders and Europa League quarter-finalists Dinamo Zagreb.
Admir Mehmedi has featured regularly in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg, although has been disrupted by a couple of injuries and has only scored twice, but the 31-year-old has over 70 international caps.
"I'm glad my smile is coming back and because I have got some routine," Drmic said in an interview with newspaper Novi List last week.
"In many games, I was a substitute and a player from the background, not always the first striker. I’m looking forward to that routine and the feeling of being among the top 11, from weekend to weekend, and then still win - that’s exactly what I missed.
"But I also feel in my body, in myself and in some actions that I am sometimes late, that I can do something better, that I have done more easily in the past. But it’s human and normal, we all make mistakes, so we fix mistakes.
"It takes a while for everything to fall into place. But it is important to be aware of your mistakes and try to correct them."
Drmic is under contract at Norwich until 2022, having signed on a free in the summer of 2019 at the end of his Gladbach deal.
It seems unlikely that he will get a second Premier League chance, with City on the verge of promotion being confirmed, but his form should at least bring interest in a permanent deal from clubs this summer - and would certainly be boosted further if he can force a Swiss recall.
Asked about his future, in the same interview, Drmic was non-committal but said: "A lot of people ask me that. And what I can say is that I am very happy and satisfied and a lot of things suit me in Rijeka.
"A lot of things have settled down and I am pleasantly surprised. I am happy with that positive and when I see all that, then I have to think about all that."