Make a Nouble gesture

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: January 14 2014, 19:57 GMT

David John previews Tuesday's FA Cup third round replays and wants to get a stand-in striker on-side at Deepdale.

Frank Nouble: Worth backing to find the net
Frank Nouble: Worth backing to find the net

"Trapped in a cycle of desperation" sounds like a phrase in some damning social commentary but it was actually used by one observer in reference to Norwich's current form ahead of their trip to Fulham on Tuesday for an FA Cup third-round replay.

Although both teams would perhaps have wished to avoid a replay, this game does take on some extra significance as they desperately try and find a tonic in the shape of some winning form.

The Canaries have gone seven games without a victory and another lacklustre effort in the 2-0 reverse at Everton over the weekend leaves manager Chris Hughton rather teetering on the brink.

The squad he assembled in the summer looked to have the quality to make survival in the top flight very realistic but confidence has rather ebbed away since an excellent 2-0 success at West Brom in early December and an imminent jolt is very much required.

The same statement can be applied to the hosts as well, who have struggled since Rene Meulensteen took over full time and Saturday's 4-1 loss at Craven Cottage to Sunderland was a real shambles.

They have been beaten in five out of their last seven in west London and it will not be lost on both managers that a victory would at least be something positive moving forward back in the league campaign.

There are sure to be some changes for both teams as well and that only adds to the confusing picture in what will be a third encounter between the pair since Boxing Day.

If pushed, I would probably just plump for the visitors at the prices but I am tempted to look elsewhere for a small wager on the evening.

And that is in the north west, where Preston host Ipswich.

The duo fought out a 1-1 draw at Portman Road in the first encounter and it is fair to say that the League 1 side had the better of things and thoroughly deserved another crack at the Tractor Boys.

Mick McCarthy is likely to travel without five first-team regulars as he gives a chance to some younger members of the squad with striker Frank Nouble set to be given an opportunity.

Daryl Murphy is McCarthy's chosen partner up front with David McGoldrick but Nouble's physical style is a handful and he should get an opportunity to add to his tally of just two goals this season - which were also against two more north west stalwarts in Blackpool and Blackburn.

Sheffield Wednesday are also worth a mention as they take on non-league Macclesfield.

Whereas Fulham have not cracked on under Meulensteen, the Owls seem to have turned a corner for Stuart Gray and his chances of getting the managerial gig full time will have been done no harm after they tore Leeds apart 6-0.

That sets them up here at no bigger than 9/20 to keep up the momentum against the Silkmen - who will be rested after a weekend off from their Skrill Premier duties - although it has to be remembered that in-form Connor Wickham is not available for selection.


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