Five things Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke will be looking out for on Germany tour
- Credit: Liam McAvoy/Focus Images Limited
Norwich City's preparations for the new Championship season will step up a gear this week in Germany.
There may have been a few excited selfies on social media from players over the last 48 hours but make no mistake that City squad is there to work over the next week.
Some players will be wondering how much more new head coach Daniel Farke can push them with a few members of the squad apparently surprised by the intensity of their training so far.
However, it seems there are more hard yards to cover yet in the fitness stakes as they take on MSV Duisburg on Wednesday and Arminia Bielefeld on Friday.
But the week away could be crucial in City hitting the ground running under the new regime. With that in mind we've looked at five things Farke will be considering upon the return to his homeland.
No more injuries please
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Ask any manager what their priorities are during pre-season and avoiding injury will be pretty high on that list.
Cambridge United left a mark on the City squad on Saturday and it remains to be seen just how deep a wound they inflicted on Farke's squad ahead of the new season.
Alex Pritchard (ankle) and Timm Klose (knee) both haven't travelled to Germany and Farke will provide an update on how long they are expected to be out for this week. City fans will be keeping everything crossed in the meantime and Farke can ill afford any more injuries to any of his prized assets this summer ahead of the big kick-off on August 5.
Yes, Farke will want to see good performances as he looks to impart his way of playing on his new charges but the main priority will be to avoid injury. Hopefully MSV Duisburg and Arminia Bielefeld prove more hospitable hosts than Cambridge.
A settled backline
We're getting to the stage now where Farke will be thinking about his starting XI for the Championship opener against Fulham. You get the impression that no-one is guaranteed a starting place yet but it is in central defence that Farke has got some serious thinking to do.
Key to it will be what system he employs – against Cambridge he used a 3-4-3 formation with Russell Martin, Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose as his starting defenders. However, in the current financial climate Norwich are in, you don't pay out for a reserve centre half and it will be important Marcel Franke gets some more minutes with his new team-mates following his move from Greuther Furth.
The debate goes on whether Ben Godfrey's best position is in defence or midfield but he did at least show a real backbone against Cambridge, showing a marked improvement from his two costly errors against Stevenage just a few days before.
Jacob Murphy knuckling down
Unless you're a City fan living in Mars then you will have heard Newcastle United are interested in taking Jacob Murphy to St James' Park this summer.
If the north-east media is to be believed (which is a completely separate debate) then the player is also quite keen. To be fair – why wouldn't he be – Premier League, more money – what's not to like?
City have made no secret of the fact that any deal would be on their terms – not Jacob's nor Newcastle's.
How he handles that will be fascinating. Will he kick and stamp his feet demanding a move like some players? Or will he knuckle down for a club that rewarded his form last season with a new four-and-a-half year contract.
This is one that's likely to run and run. If Norwich are in no mood to do business then will Jacob try and force their hand?
Step up in opposition
City have played well in patches so far this pre-season as they adjust to what Daniel Farke demands of them. Dominating possession is clearly key to what City's new head coach wants to do. When they have been able to do this then Norwich have been a cut above the opposition they have faced so far.
However, tests against Arminia Bielefeld and MSV Duisburg will be a lot different to facing Cobh Ramblers or Lowestoft Town.
These are two seasoned Bundesliga II outfits, ahead of City in their preparations with their seasons starting at the end of the month.
City's new playing style will be firmly put to the test and they will be put under pressure.
It's still very early days but we will see over the next week or so whether City are starting to shrug off the soft underbelly that so undermined their efforts last season.
Maddison or Wes
Key to City's strategy this summer was keeping Alex Pritchard unless an irresistible bid came in for the former Tottenham man.
We're yet to learn just how serious his ankle injury is and how long it's going to keep him out for. Judging by his reaction at Cambridge it seems it could be a while and it would be a surprise if he didn't miss the start of the season.
City are fortunate enough to be blessed with several options for the role of playmaker though. Wes Hoolahan seems to get better with age but at 35 it would be naïve to think he can play every Championship battle in what will be another gruelling season in the second tier.
James Maddison has been heavily involved in pre-season (at last) and could fill the void in the absence of Pritchard and/or Hoolahan.
The former Coventry man knows this is his big chance this season to kickstart his career and fulfil some of that potential City fans have always knows he's had. He will be heavily involved in Germany.