03 April 2022

Dean Smith realistic about Norwich’s survival prospects with games running out

03 April 2022

Dean Smith accepts games are running out in Norwich’s battle to stay in the Premier League but believes they have a building block to work with ahead of next weekend’s vital clash with Burnley.

The Canaries ended a run of six straight defeats with a goalless draw at Brighton on Saturday albeit they were indebted to Neal Maupay’s missed first-half penalty.

Norwich could have snatched the points late on when Teemu Pukki found Milot Rashica inside the area but the Kosovo international volleyed off target.

It was a rare moment of adventurism for the bottom-of-the-table club, who were without nine players for the trip to the south coast.

Smith insisted: “You can only play as good as the opposition allow you to at times. It would have been folly of us to open up, go all-out attack and lose 3-0. Then we haven’t got that point, so it is a building block for us.

“We know we are running out of games but we have to give ourselves a chance to go and win games.”

An opportune time to rediscover their winning touch would be Sunday when relegation rivals Burnley visit Carrow Road.

Manchester United loanee Brandon Williams could return after an ankle issue but attackers Joshua Sargent and Przemyslaw Placheta (both ankle) look set to stay on the sidelines.

“Sarg will have to stay in a (protective) boot for the next 10 days,” Smith revealed.

“Przemyi will be booted up for four or five days. Hopefully we’ll have Brandon back for the next game. I don’t know about Max Aarons (hamstring/illness) just yet so it has not been a great week certainly.”

With attacking options limited, Smith again turned to 18-year-old Jonathan Rowe from the bench in the stalemate with Brighton and the under-23s ace got his longest run-out to date with a 30-minute cameo.

After scoring nine times in Premier League 2 and taking his first-team appearances into double figures with this latest showing, it appears the youngster is close to a full debut.

“The door has always been open for Jonny and players like him,” Smith added.

“If they do well enough in training they will get the opportunity to start a game.

“I just didn’t quite feel, and I probably went against my coaches, that he didn’t have a 90-minute performance in him just yet.

“My other coaches thought he did but I felt with the system change, it would probably suit Milot and Teemu a little bit more.”

Thirteenth-placed Brighton halted their own sequence of six straight losses but now face consecutive trips to Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.

“The only thing you can do is focus on the next day, the next training session, the next match,” Seagulls boss Graham Potter admitted when quizzed about relegation.

“We have Arsenal next which is a tough match but we have proven in the past against some top teams that we can perform.”

Asked about Jakub Moder, who left the pitch on a stretcher, Potter added: “It is his knee and early to say but not positive.”

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