Liverpool handed boost with 9 stars facing race against time for season opener

Carrow Road will be bouncing on Saturday evening as newly-promoted Norwich City prepare to take on the 2019-20 Premier League champions Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will undoubtedly look back from an indifferent campaign last time out, where they finished in third place owing to a resurgence that saw them grab five wins out of five to close out what was otherwise a nightmare season.

Norwich responded quickly from relegation in the ’19-20 campaign with an awesome Championship season, grabbing a whopping 97 points and lifting the title.

Their side is relatively unchanged from the one that suffered relegation two years ago but will be without their star creator Emiliano Buendia, who joined Aston Villa in a deal that could rise to £38million.

Virgil Van Dijk got some minutes under his belt during pre-season



Liverpool are going into the new season with a fairly clean bill of health. Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are in line to face Norwich. Still, Curtis Jones, Thiago and star left-back Andy Robertson will certainly miss the opening game, with Kostas Tsimikas expected to deputise for the Scot.

Though from Norwich’s own injury record, the Reds will take encouragement as they are expected to be without nine first-team players on Saturday.

Norwich have had an unstable pre-season after being forced to cancel friendlies against Sheffield United and Coventry City because of a “small number” of COVID-19 cases in the Canaries’ squad.

The Carrow Road club said their “players and staff will continue to follow Premier League protocols and government guidelines, operating and training within their respective first team bubble” at their training ground.

The situation has worsened, with a number of first-team players expected to miss out on the opening game due to COVID-19 protocol.

Join us as Mirror Sport analyses some of the names that could miss out for Norwich on Saturday.

Sam Byram

Sam Byram has had a torrid 15 months as he has been sidelined due to a serious hamstring injury and a succession of other injuries that have prevented him from making an impact.

Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, Byram is on the path to full fitness but will have to sit out of the opening game due to a thigh injury.

The Leeds United youngster is expected to be Norwich’s second-choice right-back this season, behind speedster Max Aarons, who has been linked to Arsenal.

Todd Cantwell

Todd Cantwell has been linked with a transfer to Aston Villa


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Norwich will hope they are not without their flamboyant playmaker Todd Cantwell, who has strained ankle ligaments.

The injury is not expected to rule out Cantwell for long, and he could yet feature against Liverpool if he recovers quickly.

The under-21 England international delivered a brilliant assist in pre-season in a 5-0 victory over Gillingham, where he received a pass inside the opposition box, took the ball on the half volley and did an overhead kick pass to teammate Adam Idah who tapped the ball into the net.

Milot Rashica

Milot Rashica was Daniel Farke’s marquee signing this summer


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Do you think Rashica will be a success for Norwich? Let us know in the comments

The attacking midfielder might have to wait to make his competitive debut for Norwich after suffering from a bout of COVID-19.

The 25-year-old has been linked to some of Europe’s top clubs and will undoubtedly delight fans of the Canaries with moments of magic throughout the season.

He joins from Werder Bremen, who had a horrendous campaign in the Bundesliga, finishing 17th (of 18) and suffering relegation.

Norwich fans will hope he does not suffer a similar fate with their club, as they have suffered relegation from the Premier League three times in the past decade.

Lukas Rupp

Lukas Rupp looks set to miss out on Norwich’s opening game of their Premier League season


Stephen Pond)

Daniel Farke might have to wait to see if Lukas Rupp can truly step up to the Premier League, as he is 50/50 ahead of the Liverpool match after suffering an ankle injury.

Rupp was signed in January of their relegated 2019/20 season and only made 12 appearances in the league, never replicating his form from the Bundesliga.

The German had a solid season for Norwich last campaign, registering 25 appearances in all competitions.

Grant Hanley

The commanding centre-back is expected to miss the opening game of the season due to COVID-19 protocol.

The Scotsman is integral to Farke’s Norwich team, playing in 42 of their 46 Championship games last season, marshalling an excellent defence to the title.

Hanley finished second to Villa new boy Emi Buendia in Norwich’s player of the season voting, demonstrating his and partner Ben Gibson’s impact in stabilising the previously porous Norwich backline.

Canaries fans will be delighted that Norwich have tied down their captain with a new contract extending until the 2024-25 season.

Onel Hernandez

The Cuban international fights it out with Spurs forward Ryan Sessegnon


Justin Setterfield)

Onel Hernandez represents yet another Norwich City player who could miss the season’s opening game due to close contact with teammates who have suffered from COVID-19.

The Cuban international played an important role for Norwich during their last stint in the Premier League, starting for the Canaries on 26 occasions.

He is expected to play a significant role this season, as Norwich’s prime creator from last season, Emi Buendia, has moved to Aston Villa.

Hernandez won his first cap for Cuba this year and scored his first goal in a 2-1 defeat against Curacao.

Jordan Hugill

It is the same story for Jordan Hugill, who could miss out on the season’s opener in line with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Hugill was signed by Norwich from West Ham United in 2020 and has since gone on to score four league goals in 31 league appearances.

The 29-year-old had his best goalscoring spell with Queens Park Rangers whilst on loan from The Hammers, scoring 13 goals in the 2019-20 Championship campaign.

Manager Daniel Farke said that Hugill was “a key player for me… I don’t just rate a player because of his minutes and his impact on the pitch. You don’t win a title or promotion just as 11 players.

“A leader in our dressing room and one of the main topics why we were promoted”.

Bali Mumba

Bali Mumba is a highly-rated youngster



Unfortunately, Bali Mumba is set to miss the opening game as he is following COVID-19 protocols following a small outbreak amongst the Norwich playing staff.

Mumba has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-19 levels and is highly touted as a potential star for the future.

The 19-year-old is expected to reprise the role as Max Aarons’ understudy this season but is in line to miss the season’s first game.

The South Shields native recently signed a new contract extension, keeping him at Carrow Road until June 2025.

Przemyslaw Placheta

Placheta will hope to be an important player for Norwich this season



Placheta is the final player who could potentially miss out on the season’s first game due to COVID-19 protocol.

In the Championship last campaign, the Poland international played 26 times, bagging a goal in a 2-2 draw against Preston North End.

Placheta has gone on the record to say that he is a big admirer of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and models his game on the England international.

At just 23-years-old, Daniel Farke hopes that he has a star for the future in Placheta.

Get your hands on your club’s special edition 2021/22 annual. Find out more here .

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