Michael Bailey: Valley test has most to offer, as Farke looks ahead to City’s big kick-off
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One more audition remains before Norwich City embark on their latest Championship adventure – MICHAEL BAILEY sets the scene ahead of their final pre-season friendly this summer, against Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
It's the dress rehearsal. The last shot at showing up and staking your claim ahead of the new season. Even in the guessing game that is pre-season, there is finally a sense that something is on the line.
Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke should be relatively pleased with how things have gone since football came home to Colney at the end of June, ready for another Championship push.
The good news surrounding the injury bulletins of forward pair Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes, not only provides a welcome boost in stark contrast with the loss of Alex Pritchard and Timm Klose 12 months ago – it also reiterates how fortunate City have seen so far with their fitness and knocks.
It goes without saying that even with the added factors arising from the last pre-season friendly of the summer, both City and Charlton should have a common primary goal at The Valley – to escape one more clash with a clean bill of health.
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Wednesday saw fellow League One outfit Luton Town play a mishmash of their likely first-team contenders and the rest of Nathan Jones' squad. The result was a test that seemed a little short of what was initially expected. The timing and nature of Charlton's hopes for the new season – along with a useful 1-1 draw at home to Brighton in midweek – means The Valley should rival what City faced against Wolfsburg during their tour to Germany.
Indeed, Addicks caretaker boss Lee Bowyer has already earmarked his desire to see Charlton press high up the pitch – something Farke's side will have to contend with in the second tier, especially on the road.
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With Tim Krul safely installed as City's new number one and working from back to front, the game will represent an important chance for new captain Grant Hanley and Emi Buendía to get more minutes of action – maybe even those who have only just returned to training, such as Ivo Pinto and Jamal Lewis.
But the clues should be there come Farke's starting XI – be it in his formation selection, where 4-1-4-1 has been clearly favoured, or personnel.
Tom Trybull could get a robust examination of handling the sole holding midfield role, Jordan Rhodes' short-term absence will most likely present Dennis Srbeny with an opportunity to impress and Moritz Leitner should be looking to up his output as Birmingham comes into view.
But for everyone involved, it is one more sneaky peak. One more chance to shine.
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