Firepower rebuild is well underway at Norwich United ahead of Stowmarket test
- Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo
Norwich United boss Steve Eastaugh knew what he was taking on when he returned to Plantation Park.
Replacing the goals that left the club upon the departures of Liam Jackson and Finlay Barnes (both to Leiston) as well as Ben Fowkes (Needham Market) was his top priority.
His trust has been placed in Natty Stewart and Matt Doyle and whilst Doyle is on the sidelines following injury in pre-season, the early signs are that former King’s Lynn man Stewart can rise to the challenge.
Stewart was instrumental in Saturday’s 4-3 win over, scoring and helping to overturn a 3-2 deficit in the second half at Long Melford. Eastaugh hopes Stewart can help cushion the blow of losing last season’s potent front line and is confident of challenging at the right end of the table this season.
“Natty Stewart has hit the ground running – he scored seven in pre-season and is already up and running in the league,” he said. “We’re confident we can replace the goals that we have lost.
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“It’s a bit of a rebuild for us at that end of the pitch.
“That’s had to be our first aim coming in – to try and replace those goals. The second is to be as competitive as possible – I don’t see us being outside the top six – if that means that we are in contention in second or third place then I’ll be really pleased.”
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Norwich’s credentials will get an early examination this evening when title favourites Stowmarket come to Plantation Park (7.45pm kick-off) on Tuesday evening. The Suffolk side can count themselves unfortunate not to be playing at a higher level this season given they were 15 points ahead of the second-placed Planters before the season was null and voided due to the coronavirus pandemic. They are once again the team to beat, winning their first game of the season 1-0 against Gorleston, making it 32 games unbeaten in all competitions.
“These are the games that you look forward to,” added Eastaugh. “They were unbelievable last year and they’ve got a really good squad of players and they probably should be winning the league this year again.
“But our job is to make it as difficult as we can for them. If we can take something from the game then it will give us a lot of confidence.”
With no competitive match action for months Eastaugh admits he will have to manage his squad carefully as the games come thick and fast.
“That’s one of the reasons you need a squad of 16 or 17 players this season,” he said. “I’ve already spoken to the squad that I’m going to need all of them this season. There will be times that I have to leave people out – I’ve probably got at least two players for every position.
“But for the players that aren’t involved they need to be ready because their time will come with the amount of games.
“I’m really pleased with the squad - no-one going on holiday has really helped! We’ve been able to train three times a week and get across to the lads what we want.”
Thurlow Nunn League
Premier Division: Ely City v Thetford Tn, FC Clacton v Brantham Ath, Gorleston v Walsham Le Willows, Haverhill Rvrs v Godmanchester Rvrs, Kirkley & Pakefield v Woodbridge Tn, Newmarket Tn v Mildenhall Tn, Norwich Utd v Stowmarket Tn, Stanway Rvrs v Long Melford, Swaffham Tn v Wroxham, Whitton Utd v Hadleigh Utd.
First Division North: Leiston Res v Needham Market Res, Sheringham v Norwich CBS.