With just one point from the last six Premier League matches, Norwich City’s mid-season form has taken a turn for the worse. Last weekend’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool was the Canaries’ lowest point since the opening weekend of the campaign.
The East Anglian side are lacking a proven goalscorer so far this season. Two bids for Celtic’s Gary Hooper have been rejected by the SPL leaders, while there is believed to be strong interest in Swansea’s wantaway striker Danny Graham.
However, Chris Hughton has added some strength to his goalkeeping ranks, as he looks poised to sign Lee Camp on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest.
The Northern Ireland international has made 28 appearances this season for the Championship side, but is clearly not in new manager Alex McLeish’s plans – he has been told he can leave the City Ground on a free transfer.
The 28-year-old will return to the club where he had a brief loan spell back in 2006, and will provide excellent goalkeeping back-up for the injured John Ruddy, who is out long-term with a torn thigh muscle.
Ruddy did the damage in a draw at Everton in late November, but hopes to be back in action around the Easter period. However, his absence has been missed massively by the Canaries backline and by the supporters.
Before the injury, Ruddy had kept clean sheets against Arsenal, Stoke City and Manchester United, and the defenders were fully confident that they had a trusted goalkeeper behind them in case they made a bad error.
Ruddy has come on leaps and bounds. He has won England recognition under Roy Hodgson, and only a broken finger kept him out of the Euro 2012 reckoning. He is perfect back-up at international level for the usually dependable Joe Hart.
Norwich did bring in Mark Bunn from Blackburn Rovers in the summer. The 28-year-old has played 141 matches in his club career, and started the last 10 Premier League matches. Since Ruddy’s disappearance from the first-team though, Norwich have only kept one clean sheet, and shipped 20 goals in that period – an average of two goals per game.
That is not all Bunn’s fault, but he simply is not in the calibre of quality and personality that Ruddy brings to the team. The addition of Camp should solve a growing problem area for the time being, although Bunn will likely still be called upon for Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round clash with near neighbours Luton Town.
The last time the sides met was in the Championship in 2007. The Canaries won 3-2 at Kenilworth Road, although they only have a narrow percentage advantage over the Hatters in the all-time head-to-head record.
Luton’s plight down the football pyramid has been highly documented, but they should not be underestimated, as Wolves can testify for in the last round.
This Saturday’s local derby will be a cracking occasion and a feisty battle. Norwich will start as favourites, but must be wary of the non-league threat.
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