Head-To-Head

Friday 3 January 2014 12:00

Clint Dempsey is eligible to make his second Fulham debut on Saturday, some seven years since he donned the black and white shirt for the first time.

Norwich City are the opponents for the second time in 10 days, and the Canaries will no doubt be looking for revenge after the Whites’ late 2-1 win at Carrow Road on Boxing Day.

Head Coach René Meulensteen has made it clear that the Barclays Premier League is his side’s priority this season, but he will still be looking for another win in Norfolk as Fulham aim to progress to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.

The contest could provide a platform for some of the Club’s younger starlets to showcase their talents, with Dan Burn one man who may feature after he was recalled from his loan spell at Birmingham City earlier in the week.

The opposition

Norwich boss Chris Hughton is set to give record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel a chance to impress in Saturday’s Cup tie.

The Dutch striker, who joined from Sporting Lisbon in a £8.5m deal in the summer, has endured a difficult time in East Anglia, with his only goal coming on the opening game of the season.

A toe injury, together with the good form of fellow summer signing Gary Hooper, has seen van Wolfswinkel's opportunities to impress limited, but Hughton believes the all-Premier League cup-tie is a superb chance for him to showcase his abilities.

“Ricky will certainly play. We will certainly use the squad, but that is more a necessity with the ones we have out and some which have knocks,” the Norwich manager said.

Centre-back Michael Turner is not expected to feature after picking up a hamstring injury in the New Year's Day draw with Crystal Palace. Jonny Howson will also miss out with his niggling back complaint, while Leroy Fer will serve his one-match suspension following his sending off in the New Year's Day draw at Crystal Palace.

Last time out

Norwich City 1-2 Fulham 26.12.2013

There was encouragement for Fulham here that went beyond the acquisition of three points away from home. Having fallen behind to a deflected shot by Gary Hooper, Meulensteen's much-changed side came back with spirit and, having equalised through Pajtim Kasami's free-kick, played well enough to deserve the fine late goal by skipper Scott Parker that gave them renewed hope of avoiding relegation.

Although Parker’s late winner was not enough to take Fulham out of the bottom three, Meulensteen was convinced his side have the character and ability to retain their top-flight status.

“It could be a very significant goal,” he said. “But we can only tell when months and months go by.

“I’m delighted with the three points and Scott scoring the winner because his character and leadership on the pitch typifies the performances we have had in the last few weeks. The team has plenty of experience in the side and hopefully that will prove very valuable in making sure we stay in the Premier League this season.”

Norwich City dictated the early pace and their goal, fortunate as it was, stemmed from the pressure mounted by Redmond’s wing play, Johan Elmander’s direct running and Hooper’s finishing instincts. A loose clearance by Fulham went to Elmander, who played it smartly to Hooper. The striker took it on a few strides before firing in a low shot, which deflected off Aaron Hughes and looped over goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Fulham then grew into the game and under pressure, keeper John Ruddy hit a clearance against Parker. The ball bounced into the net but the effort was ruled out for handball. The Whites weren’t to be denied though and levelled in the 33rd minute. Steve Sidwell dummied to strike a free-kick but left it for Kasami, who beat Ruddy left-footed from 25 yards.

Ruddy blocked a Hugo Rodallega header on the line but Norwich were beaten late on by Parker’s finish.

It was just the fourth time in 2013 that Norwich had lost at Carrow Road in the Premier League and manager Hughton said: “I don’t think anybody could accuse us of not trying to win the game. We just couldn’t create that clear-cut chance.”

Players to watch

Sebastien Bassong: A £5.5m buy from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, the Cameroon international is the club's team captain and has formed a strong central defensive partnership with Turner. The Paris-born 27-year-old played twice for France Under-21s before committing himself to Cameroon, the country of his parents’ birth. Bassong came to England in 2008 and joined Newcastle in a £500,000 deal from French club Metz. After the Tynesiders were relegated from the Premier League in 2009, he moved to Spurs in an £8m deal. In three years he made 72 appearances for the White Hart Lane club but never cemented a regular place in the team, moving to Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan in January 2012. The move to Carrow Road has been an outstanding success for the 6ft 2 inch centre half.

Wes Hoolahan: A firm crowd favourite at Carrow Road, the Republic of Ireland international has made more than 200 appearances for the Canaries following his move in a player-plus-cash deal from Blackpool in 2008. The 31-year-old attacking midfielder was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in March 2012 and can operate in central midfield or on the flanks. He is particularly effective as the offensive point of a diamond formation. He has 35 goals for his club and one for his country from the seven appearances he has made for the Republic.

Nathan Redmond: A product of Birmingham City's academy, the 19-year-old winger went through all the club's age group teams, making his first team debut  at 16 years and 173 days, becoming their second youngest ever player. He played a total of 82 games for his home city club and was capped by England at Under-16, 17, 18, 19 and 21 levels. Birmingham accepted two bids for Redmond last summer, from Norwich and Swansea City, and the player chose to rejoin former Blues boss Chris Hughton at Carrow Road. The fee was reported to be an initial £2m with a further £1.2m in further payments. So far this season he has made 21 appearances, scoring one goal.

Magic numbers

3 - Times Fulham have won 2-1 at Carrow Road, the most common scoreline when the two clubs have played in East Anglia.

7 - Goals scored by Fulham in our record FA Cup victory over Swansea City in November 1995.

9 - Goals Dimitar Berbatov has scored in his last nine Premier League appearances in January.

28 - Appearances Dan Burn made on loan at Birmingham City before his recall to the Whites this week.

30 - Fulham shots compared to 11 for West Ham in our 2-1 over the Hammers on New Year’s Day.

67.5 - Percentage of possession Fulham enjoyed compared to West Ham's 32.5 per cent in the 2-1 win.

1908 - The year in which the Fulham and Norwich played in our only FA Cup fixture before - the Whites winning 1-0 at the Cottage.