First chance to see new-look Canaries squad awaits at The Walks
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 06 July 2018
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Last season may not have finished yet for those at the World Cup but pre-season gets into full swing when Norwich City play their first friendly this evening.
King’s Lynn Town await the Canaries at The Walks (7.30pm kick-off) as head coach Daniel Farke begins his second campaign in charge.
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The first friendly of the season may often be played at half pace and see the Canaries win comfortably against local opposition but it is also often the first chance to see some new faces.
Star man James Maddison has left for Leicester and Josh Murphy was also sold to Cardiff for big money. Club legend Wes Hoolahan has moved on and Welsh international Marley Watkins has brought an end to his disappointing City spell.
So far the arrivals filling those holes have been Argentine attacker Emi Buendia, Scotland international midfielder Kenny McLean and Wolves winger Ben Marshall, while Finland striker Teemu Pukki and loan right-back Felix Passlack are the most recent signings. Passlack only arrived on Tuesday and Buendia’s training began on Monday due to Getafe’s season finishing in late May, as did striker Nelson Oliveira’s, having been on standby for Portugal’s World Cup squad.
It would seem unlikely that trio will play much of a part but there will certainly be a fresh look to the Canaries tonight.
Remi Matthews is one of a handful of players eagerly awaiting his chance to impress during pre-season.
The academy product has returned from a successful loan in League One with Plymouth Argyle and found a number one shirt waiting to be filled.
Angus Gunn was an ever-present as he returned to his boyhood club on loan from Manchester City last season, with Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern providing cover. With very little chance of Gunn returning – with a £15m move to Southampton being touted – Matthews has an ideal chance to grab the gloves.
The 24-year-old had a handful of chances to show what he can do during friendlies last year but it was already clear that Gunn was set to be first choice.
He was on the bench for two EFL Cup ties at the beginning of the season but eventually joined Plymouth and went on to help the Pilgrims rocket up the League One table to eventually just miss out on a play-off place.
The Gorleston-born keeper kept 10 clean sheets in 27 games, building on previous loans at Hamilton and Doncaster, but is he ready to be number one?
McGovern, 33, looks likely to remain for the final year of his contract as things stand and 20-year-old Aston Oxborough, another local academy product, is also waiting in the wings having signed a new contract earlier in April.
For those who think pre-season means nothing, just ask Canaries left-back Jamal Lewis.
A year ago it looked like FA Youth Cup winner Harry Toffolo would be competing with James Husband at left-back but it some became clear that another academy product was emerging.
Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber were so impresses with the 19-year-old that they handed him a long-term contract, despite a knee injury.
That problem kept him out until December, by the end of the season he was a Northern Ireland international. This year it’s a chance for right-back Max Aarons, defensive midfielder Ben Godfrey and playmaker Todd Cantwell to push their claims for potential first-team involvement.
Last year Farke set his stall out in the friendlies pretty quickly, he wasn’t interested in a constant stream of substitutes, plenty of minutes went into the tank for his key players.
Christoph Zimmermann will need no reminding. The big friendly German played 705 of a maximum 750 minutes – a full 171 more than any other player.
There is to be no 120-minute match this time around though, following the nightmare trip to Cambridge, in which both Timm Klose and Alex Pritchard picked up contact injuries which heavily disrupted the first half of their campaigns.
There was plenty of Canaries interest in Lynn’s fortunes last season, when club legend Ian Culverhouse in charge.
With City academy products Ryan Jarvis, Cameron Norman, Cameron King and Michael Clunan on board there was already a healthy Carrow Road influence at The Walks.
That was bolstered by Simon Lappin and, briefly, Grant Holt as the Linnets set their sights on promotion to the second tier of the non-league pyramid – just four tiers lowers than Norwich.
Yet despite a superb season, breaking 100 points, second place proved not to be enough and play-off final defeat to Slough has proved to be costly.
Culverhouse has left for another step three team, heading to the Northern Premier Division with Grantham, and Lappin followed him out of the door.
Jarvis and Clunan remain and are expect to be key players but Norman has stepped up to League One with Oxford United and King has stepped up to the National League with Halifax.
Now former Charlton first-team coach Simon Clark has taken on the challenge on keeping the Linnets in the chase for promotion.
• We’ll be at The Walks to bring you live updates from around 7pm at The Walks, check back to pinkun.com for live coverage, an on-the-whistle report and post-match reaction