Norwich City went into this season with the aim of winning promotion back to the Premier League at the front of their minds, a subdued middle-of-the-road 13th-placed finish last season hopefully written off as a minor blip on the road to success.
However, the Canaries are languishing in 16th spot at the time of writing with eight defeats already to their name and a sinking feeling engulfing the club.
David Wagner remains as manager in the dug-out, hoping he can buy some time in order to get to January and potentially add some new recruits to the building to turn the difficult situation at Carrow Road around and alleviate pressure on his shoulders.
Here’s what a predicted XI could look like at Norwich come the end of the January transfer window…
GK – Angus Gunn
Sidelined at the moment due to injury, Wagner will hope he has his number one goalkeeper back at his disposal sooner rather than later.
The Scottish shot-stopper had started every Canaries match this season until succumbing to a knock versus Leeds United, with back-up goalkeeper George Long failing to fill in adequately since.
Long hasn’t kept a clean sheet in the wake of Gunn’s absence from the team, the homegrown talent turned first-team keeper slotting straight back into the Norwich first-team when back up to full fitness.
RB – Jack Stacey
Featuring for AFC Bournemouth and Luton Town before signing on the dotted line at Carrow Road, Stacey is a figure who has the know-how to be a success at this level.
It was clear in Norwich’s recent comeback win at Cardiff City how important Stacey is to the Canaries at right-back – coming on at half-time to replace the inexperienced Kellen Fisher, and helping his side come out as victors from the closely fought contest.
Only losing possession a meagre six times in total as per Sofascore, the 27-year-old’s no-nonsense approach in the second 45 minutes also thwarted Cardiff attackers who lost confidence as a result with four out of five ground and aerial duels attempted won by the full-back.
CB – Shane Duffy
Boasting similar experience to Stacey – Duffy previously a Championship regular with Blackburn Rovers in his career – hasn’t quite performed to the standards expected of him in Norwich yellow yet this season.
However, the 31-year-old hasn’t suddenly become a poor defender overnight and has shown this season in flashes that he’s more than a competent defender built for the cut and thrust of second-tier action still.
In a 1-1 draw away at Coventry City at the start of October, Duffy was crucial in helping his side get over the line to gain a point – clearing the ball away from danger nine times as per Sofascore, clearing off the line at one stage too to the dismay of the Sky Blues.
CB – Liam Moore
Wagner could utilise the free agent market effectively this January, Liam Moore a seasoned defender at EFL level who has found himself without a club since leaving Reading this year.
Amassing 284 Championship appearances over his career to date and a further 24 in League One, the Jamaican centre-back could be a useful addition to the Norwich group especially with young defender Jaden Warner way off the pace versus Cardiff.
LB – Dimitris Giannoulis
Norwich’s recipient of September Player of the Month is up next in this starting eleven, Giannoulis a fan favourite at Carrow Road from left-back.
The Greek defender got back to his best against Cardiff last time out after two sub-par displays beforehand, entering into the fray at half-time to shore up the leaky Canaries backline.
Successful with two of his dribble attempts as per Sofascore, he helped Norwich push forward in attack to claim a dramatic win in Wales.
CDM – Gabriel Sara
Going under the radar arguably compared to Jonathan Rowe further forward, Sara has been equally as tantalising to watch from a Norwich perspective this season.
Wagner will just pray that Sara isn’t tempted to move on when the transfer window opens, the 24-year-old a constant bright spark for his side.
CDM – Lewis Fiorini
Similar in playing style to his potential teammate in Sara, Fiorini could be a welcome loan addition this January in midfield for the Canaries.
Loaned out to Lincoln City and Blackpool before by Manchester City, the Scotsman has obvious pedigree and the skill-set required to drop back to a holding midfield role when asked to whilst also equally capable of playing as an attacking midfield.
Wagner could do with more options in the centre of the park, with Fiorini one name he ought to consider.
RM – Jonathan Rowe
Breaking into the first-team with the Canaries just this season, Rowe feels like he’s been around the first-team quarters for an eternity now with his qualities exceptional for a 20-year-old in a demanding division.
Rowe has managed to score eight times for Wagner’s men this season, leading to frenzied interest from Premier League clubs such as Aston Villa emerging.
Everyone involved with proceedings at Carrow Road will hope Norwich can hold onto their homegrown talent past January, a key player for the under-pressure Wagner currently.
CAM – Marcelino Núñez
Norwich’s Chilean number 26 slots in at attacking midfield in this predicted eleven, playing there in the last few contests under Wagner.
Despite losing 3-1 at home versus Blackburn in the last contest at Carrow Road, Núñez stood out in attack for the Canaries.
The 23-year-old continually peppered the Rovers goal with shots, unable to score but always trying his best to spearhead an unlikely comeback.
LM – Tarique Fosu
The second free agent transfer Wagner could look to make is bringing in former Brentford man Fosu to Carrow Road, the Ghanaian attacker last featuring for Rotherham United on loan before the Bees eventually released the winger.
With Christian Fassnacht the only other real winger option down the left-hand side currently in the Canaries group, adding Fosu – who would arrive with no real risk attached on a free deal – feels like a no-brainer move for Wagner to make.
ST – Hwang Ui-Jo
With Josh Sargent out with a long-term injury and previous Finnish hero Teemu Pukki no longer playing for Norwich, Hwang Ui-Jo is now starting up top for the Canaries.
Hailing from South Korea, Ui-Jo is proving to be a hit with his new Norfolk-based masses. Yet, he hasn’t really established himself as a feared attacker to the rest of the division – only scoring once, but performing well still.
If he can find his shooting boots, he could be Norwich’s starting man up top over the likes of Adam Idah.