clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Opposition Lowdown: Dean Smith's Norwich City

Reading take on Norwich City under the SCL Stadium lights this Tuesday, in a battle between third and second. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Norwich City v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Carrow Road Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images


Norwich were relegated from the Premier League last season, finishing bottom of the table, 16 points adrift of safety. They have yo-yo’d between the first and second tiers over the last four years, but claimed the Championship title in both of their last two seasons in the second tier (2018/19, 2020/21).

They have had a strong start to life back in the Championship, currently sitting in second position after seven wins, two draws and two losses. The Canaries’ home form has been impressive so far as they remain unbeaten at Carrow Road, with their two losses coming away from home against Cardiff City and Hull City.

Norwich claimed the bragging rights last time the two sides both played in the Championship, securing a 1-2 win against the Royals at the Madejski Stadium before a 4-1 win at Carrow Road in Reading’s last away game of the 2020/21 season.

The boss

Dean Smith: Smith was appointed head coach of Norwich in November 2021, replacing Daniel Farke, who was sacked as Canaries manager 11 games into the season.

Prior to Norwich, Smith spent three years in charge at Aston Villa, leading them back to the top flight in his first season before finishing 17th and 11th in the Premier League. He was sacked as Villa manager in November 2021, with Villa sitting in 16th place in the table. However, he was only out of work for a week, with Norwich signing him up quickly after the departure of Farke.

Norwich City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Smith started his managerial career at former club Walsall in 2011, before moving to Brentford in 2015 and then Aston Villa in 2018. He is known for being an effective man manager who likes his sides to press opposition high up the pitch.


Norwich managed to keep the majority of their Premier League squad intact over the summer, when Josip Drmic, Christoph Zimmerman and Pierre Lees-Melou were the only high-profile departures from Carrow Road.

They supplemented their squad with the permanent signings of midfielders Gabriel Sara and Marcelino Nunez from Sao Paolo and Universidad Catolica respectively, with both joining for undisclosed fees. They have also bought in two midfielders on loan with Isaac Hayden joining from Newcastle United and Aaron Ramsey arriving from Aston Villa.

Norwich are expected to be without defender Dimitris Giannoulis, while Isaac Hayden is also likely to miss out as he recovers from a knee injury. The Canaries will also be without Adam Idah, Sam McCallum, Jonathan Rowe and Jacob Sorensen.

Expected line-up

Krul, Hanley, Omobamidele, Aarons, Byram, Nunez, Sargent, Ramsey, McLean, Hernandez, Pukki

Key player

Josh Sargent: American forward Sargent joined Norwich in August 2021, signing from German side Werder Bremen for a reported fee of £8m. Having started his youth career in the United States, Sargent signed for Werder Bremen in 2018 and scored on his debut for the Bundesliga side that December.

Sargent netted four goals in his first season at Norwich, scoring a brace against Bournemouth in the League Cup and a further two in a Premier League win against Watford. Sargent has had a strong start to life in the Championship, currently sitting joint-second in the goalscoring charts with six goals to his name so far this season.

Norwich City v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

He is also a full United States international and will be hoping to make the trip to Qatar next month to represent his country in the World Cup. Sargent is a versatile forward who can play anywhere across the front three or in the number 10 role and is a hardworking attacking threat who is strong in the air.

One to watch

Andrew Omobamidele: Defender Omobamidele is a graduate of Norwich’s youth academy, having joined the club from Ireland at the age of 16. He made his debut for the side in January 2021 and has five Premier League appearances to his name.

The 20-year-old is a Republic of Ireland international and already has five caps for the senior team, having also represented his country at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level. Omobamidele is now a first-team regular for Norwich and has started every league game so far this season. He is a composed, ball-playing centre back who is also strong in the air.