First Team 6 days ago

Team News: Norwich City

By Kevin Affleck

Quique Sánchez Flores will spend this evening deciding how best to deploy Troy Deeney after the captain was declared fit enough to rejoin the squad.

Deeney has worked his socks off to get himself back into contention following a knee operation, grafting at the weekends at London Colney and in his spare time with a fitness coach, and it has paid off with a slightly ahead-of-schedule return. He was on the team bus that left for Norwich this afternoon and now it is down to Sánchez Flores and the medical team to decide how long he can play against the Canaries.

“He's ready to come to the group and go to the list,” said Sánchez Flores, who last picked Deeney for a squad in May 2016. “He is ready and we will make the final decision. It's very good news.”

Deeney joined in a full session for the first time on Tuesday and the intensity immediately went up. His leadership qualities, as well as his ability to lead the line and find the back of the net, will be vital in the team's attempt to move away from danger.

“If I say we miss him a lot, it sounds like an excuse,” said the Head Coach. “We don't want excuses right now. We want to play, improve on everything and we want Deeney in this team as we know what he means for this club.”

The 31-year-old has been out since the middle of August following surgery to trim some cartilage and remove some bone fragments. He has worked tirelessly with physio Pete Webb and fitness coach Lee Stafford to get back to a level where he is able to help the team.

“He has done amazing to try reach this match, to try arrive for this match,” said Sánchez Flores. “He is training very passionately and gives us this positive energy that he has always.”

Sánchez Flores was given further good news this week with the sight of Étienne Capoue, last year's Player of the Season, and record signing Ismaïla Sarr returning to full training. 

“It's not just Deeney,” he said. “We have [José] Holebas, Capoue, [Sebastian] Prödl, Sarr – players who have recovered in the week — and now we have more options. It's good for the team.”

First Team 1 week ago

Foster: “You've Got To Earn The Win”

Ben Foster insists he is under no illusions of the importance of this Friday night game at Carrow Road against Norwich City, as the Hornets seek their first win of the season.

“We know these games are huge for us, absolutely huge. Starting with Norwich on Friday night, it’s a tough game but every game is tough,” said the goalkeeper. “Just ask Man City, they went to Norwich a few months ago [and lost], the game is hard and you’ve got to earn it. There’s no god given right that you’re going to get the three points.”

Foster, at the age of 36, is keen to use all his experience to help manage his fellow teammates through their tough start to the season.

“We’ve got a fairly experienced squad, I think for me being an older player you learn to ride the lows and highs. You can’t get too carried away, you’ve just got to stay constant,” he said. “I enjoy being that sort of guy that everyone can look to and be the same. It’s the way football goes, confidence is a massive thing. For me, the technical ability is 50 per cent and the mental side is 50 per cent as well.”

Since Quique Sánchez Flores’ arrival in September, Foster said he has noticed changes around the training ground. The goalkeeper has been particularly impressed with the Head Coach's time spent working on the players individually, as well as the squad.

“His man management is brilliant,” he said. “He’s very big on a positive state of mind and on the mental side of it. I think that’s a huge part of modern football now days. Its great doing tactics and stuff like that but when you have someone who’s big on the mental side, that’s only going to help.

“He’s very organised and knows exactly the style of football he wants to play. He’s been working us hard on the training pitch so that we know our jobs and at any given point in the game we know what to do should anything happen.”

Foster knows exactly what it takes to go to Carrow Road and pick up three points. The goalkeeper faced the Canaries in April 2014 and put on an eye-catching performance to keep a clean sheet in a vital game for his previous side.  

“I’ve been to Norwich a few times and we’ve been there with West Brom a few years back, where it was a do or die with two or three games to go and we managed to scrape a 1-0 win. Something like that on Friday night would be exactly what the doctor ordered.”

The Hornets go into the game on Friday night knowing a win can lift them off the foot of the table and overtake their opponents as well as Southampton going into the weekend. Foster is aware of how important three points would be.

“I think at the moment it’s a matter of confidence,” he said. “If we can get the first win under the belt, we can move on from there and build on it. If we can get a win and a couple of decisions go in our favour, it can really turn our season around.”