Sebastien Bassong hoping to take his big chance during Norwich City Under-21s clash at Carrow Road
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Sebastien Bassong has been given the perfect opportunity to force his way into Alex Neil's first-team plans at Norwich City.
The centre-back is one of four senior players included in the Canaries' Under-21s squad for tonight's home Premier League International Cup clash against German outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach. After being an unused substitute during Saturday's 2-1 Carrow Road reverse against Brentford, the Frenchman certainly needs to make the most of his chance as he looks to resurrect his career in Norfolk.
The 28-year-old is yet to play a senior game for Norwich this season after being sent out on loan to Watford during Neil Adams' short reign. However, his replacement at the helm has indicated the door is still open for the defender – who is yet to make a Championship appearance for his parent club this term – so a fine display against Gladbach could convince Neil that the 2012/13 player of the season is ready to feature in the weekend's trip to Birmingham.
Bassong is joined in the Young Canaries' set-up for the fixture against the Bundesliga boys by Declan Rudd, Ignasi Miquel and Javier Garrido. Keeper Rudd featured for Paul Wilkinson's charges when they drew 0-0 with Sunderland last week while Miquel is in line for his fourth 'reserve' outing.
Left-back Garrido will be involved as he looks to get some precious game-time under his belt following a groin injury that has hampered his senior hopes.
The pressure is on the quartet and their team-mates as they know a draw is the minimum they require on the night to keep their chances of progressing from one of the four groups in the inaugural competition alive. City were hammered 5-0 at Chelsea before Christmas while Borussia drew 1-1 against the same club in their opening fixture. Porto – yet to play Norwich or Mönchengladbach – were beaten 2-1 by the group A-leading Londoners.
Victories in their remaining two matches will see City certain of a place in the quarter-finals of the Barclays-backed cup which involves 15 other sides. Athletic Bilbao, Manchester City and Celtic lead the way in their respective pools.
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Academy manager Gregg Broughton, who will see Josh Murphy, Conor McGrandles and Carlton Morris, back temporarily from his loan spell at York City, feature, told his club's official website: 'The support our under-21s have received this season has been outstanding.
'Playing in front of Norwich City's tremendous supporters truly helps our players prepare for professional football, and we're seeing that ring true with a number of Academy graduates thriving out on loan in the tough environment of the Football League.'
A bumper crowd is expected for the match with record attendances being enjoyed at under-21s level so far this campaign. A huge 10,405 saw the Canaries see off Tottenham Hotspur in October – even though the match was screened live on BT Sport.
This evening's match kicks-off at 7pm and entry is free. Tickets are available from the Carrow Road ticket office. Officials have advised supporters to arrive early to avoid queues. Fans have the option of making a donation to the Academy, just like they did when City hosted Manchester United. On that night £2,300 was raised to help develop the next generation.