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City defender on his impressive stat, forging a relationship with Amadou and taking on United

PUBLISHED: 10:17 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 24 October 2019

Norwich City defender Ben Godfrey savoured victory over Manchester City at Carrow Road last month 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City defender Ben Godfrey savoured victory over Manchester City at Carrow Road last month Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

You can lose yourself in football statistics, such is the comprehensive nature of football coverage these days, but do players care about their stats?

One of the more impressive stats with a Norwich City twist so far this season is owned by young defender Ben Godfrey, who has started every match of the Premier League season so far.

That consistency came under threat at the weekend when pain from a recent hernia surgery forced the England Under-21 international off five minutes into a respectable 0-0 draw at Bournemouth.

Godfrey has since revealed that he should be fine to face Manchester United at Carrow Road on Sunday and the 21-year-old heads into the game with one of the best pass success percentages in the top flight.

Just six players are averaging higher than the centre-back's current accurate passing rate of 90.6 percent - and all of them are senior internationals.

Manchester City and Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi leads the way on 92.5pc, ahead of his Spanish club-mate Rodri (91.9pc) and Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks (91.8pc), who recently won his fourth cap for England.

Then it's Manchester City and Ukraine left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko (91.6pc), Liverpool and Holland midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (91.2pc) and Crystal Palace's former England centre-back Gary Cahill (90.9pc).

It's fine company to keep - and Godfrey is proud to see one of his key attributes standing out in the Premier League.

"It helps with the way that we play, we're a passing team, so when I get the ball the first thought is to keep the ball, move it," he explained.

Godfrey kept England striker Callum Wilson on a short leash as Norwich drew at Bournemouth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesGodfrey kept England striker Callum Wilson on a short leash as Norwich drew at Bournemouth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

"You're never going to see us, really, unless we need to, hit a long ball that is 50-50 of who is going to win it, us or them - because most of the time their defenders are going to win it against our team because we haven't got that type of target man.

"So you will fire passes into midfield, splitting lines and things like that.

"So pass percentage, to be honest, it's something that I do look at and something that I do take pride in.

"If you're a centre-back who gives the ball away a lot then you're going to find yourself in trouble at times because you're the last row of the defence.

"You have to take care of the ball and make sure that a lot of your passes are reaching your team-mates, otherwise you will end up hurting yourself and getting punished."

Godfrey has been playing alongside Ibrahim Amadou in central defence for much of this season, who is primarily a defensive midfielder.

With Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann not due back from injury until December, it's a partnership that the duo are working hard to build.

"We train together and do bits and pieces but it's difficult, as you say, he's not naturally a centre-back but I think he's done an unbelievable job, he's done really well," the York City youth product continued.

Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi has the best average pass completion percentage in the Premier League so far this season Picture: Adam Davy/PA WireManchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi has the best average pass completion percentage in the Premier League so far this season Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire

"There's been games where we have conceded goals and we've lost, but that's going to happen some weeks. He's a great player, it's a shame we haven't seen him in that holding midfield role but he's been called upon to do a job at centre-back and he's been great to play with, he's solid."

Even that partnership was broken up during the second half on Saturday though, when Godfrey limped off, with Alex Tettey dropping back from midfield to cover.

Godfrey added: "Tetts is experienced - I don't know if he likes playing centre-back or not though! But he did a good job, he was solid and it was nice to have a clean sheet as well, it's good for everyone.

"Bournemouth are a good side so it was definitely a result that we can take plenty of positives from."

Experienced midfielder Tettey returned to the starting XI after injury, alongside goalkeeper Tim Krul.

"The players that were called upon when they weren't there, didn't necessarily do a bad job, but the atmosphere that players like Tim and Alex bring, the feel when they're on the pitch is good," Godfrey concluded - speaking after a half-term event at City's fan hub in Norwich city centre, signing autographs and posing for photos alongside Todd Cantwell.

"They've had unbelievable careers, the things that they've experienced is something that young players look up to. They're good players and they can help carry teams through to good results like a 0-0 at Bournemouth. But that's no disrespect to anyone that was in when they weren't in."

Head coach Daniel Farke was concerned after Godfrey had limped off at Bournemouth but the defender has recovered quickly Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesHead coach Daniel Farke was concerned after Godfrey had limped off at Bournemouth but the defender has recovered quickly Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

- ATMOSPHERE CRUCIAL FOR PLAYERS - GODFREY

The Carrow Road atmosphere can make the difference for City, Godfrey insists ahead of another big Premier League occasion.

City entertain Manchester United on Sunday looking to rediscover a bit of the magic which created a truly memorable atmosphere during last month's impressive 3-2 victory over champions Manchester City.

"We all know how big of a game it is, not just for us but for fans as well, playing against a big name opposition like that," the defender said. "So hopefully the atmosphere is there and that will drive us on, and as I said, we'll give 110 percent and hopefully things work out well.

"We'll be trying our best, it would be a massive three points. I just hope the atmosphere is there to be honest because that was a massive factor in the Man City game - the stadium was bouncing for 90 minutes.

"If we can have the fans doing the same thing, that will be a massive advantage for us."

The England Under-21 international grew up in North Yorkshire but it wasn't United's bitter rivals Leeds that he followed.

"I actually supported Arsenal when I was a young boy and looked up to Thierry Henry, which is bizarre because I'm a centre-back now," he explained. "But I've got family down south so I supported Arsenal."

Todd Cantwell and Ben Godfrey, right, signed autographs and posed for photos with City fans at a half-term event at Jarrold Intersport Picture: Jamie HoneywoodTodd Cantwell and Ben Godfrey, right, signed autographs and posed for photos with City fans at a half-term event at Jarrold Intersport Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The Red Devils are without a win in six games but held leaders Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, ahead of tonight's Europa League group stage game at Partizan Belgrade.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are 14th with just three points more than 19th-placed Norwich ahead of the game, with 10 points from nine games representing United's worst start to a league season since 1986.

"Obviously they're a massive club, there's a lot of pressure on them," added Godfrey, who expects to be fit for the game after his recent hernia trouble.

"I think people will see us as the underdogs but we don't feel like that, to be honest. We're looking to get, and we will play for, the three points. It's going to be a good game, I can't wait for it.

"Their Europa League game is their business. All we can do is focus on ourselves and hopefully the Norwich turns up that we know can and we play to our full potential."

- The full video of our exclusive interview with Godfrey can be viewed above

- You can follow chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer or on Facebook @DavidFreezer1

Canaries centre-back Godfrey met fans at Norwich City's fan hub at Jarrold Intersport this week Picture: Jamie HoneywoodCanaries centre-back Godfrey met fans at Norwich City's fan hub at Jarrold Intersport this week Picture: Jamie Honeywood

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