Norwich need to pay more than lip service to avoid a Luton FA Cup shock

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Elliott BennettGettyImagesNorwich's Elliott Bennett will not be taking the threat of Luton lightly

By way of some light relief from this endless transfer smoke and mirrors engulfing the Canaries, Chris Hughton's men have the small matter of an FA Cup fourth round tie against non-league Luton Town this weekend.

Sporting Lisbon's highly-rated Dutchman Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Kansas City's Kei Kamara are the latest striking reinforcements linked with Norwich in recent days. Hughton confirmed an enquiry for Kamara on Thursday and Portuguese media are reporting a €10 million offer is on the table for van Wolfswinkel. All grist to the mill following stalled moves for Celtic's Gary Hooper and Swansea's Danny Graham, but the names that City need to focus on this weekend are the likes of Andre Gray, Janos Kovacs and Norwich-bred Mark Tyler.

None of the aforementioned is going to fire Norwich to Premier League safety. But collectively, they and their Conference team-mates could make Bradford's Capital One Cup heroics look distinctly average if they pull off an FA Cup shock at Carrow Road.

The task facing Hughton's Premier League squad this weekend is to avoid humiliation that will linger for the rest of his players' careers. In no way should that be interpreted as disrespect to the Hatters, more an acceptance of a footballing landscape that currently has these two former contemporaries separated by four divisions.

Sutton's 1989 triumph against Coventry City was the last time the FA Cup spawned a scalping of such magnitude. Hughton and Norwich midfielder Elliott Bennett were reminded of that at their pre-match press call at a snowy Colney.

City know the scale of the task. This will be Luton's day. Whatever the outcome. The Hatters' 4,000 strong away support will generate a carnival atmosphere. For Luton manager Paul Buckle and his players it is brief respite from the serious business of trying to extricate a club who used to compete on an equal footing with Norwich from the lower reaches of the professional game.

Having spoken to Buckle earlier this week, Luton will head to Norfolk on business. There will be no inferiority complex on their part. Championship club Wolves were embarrassed in the previous round and you got the strongest sense Luton know if they get it right on the day they can make life uncomfortable for the Canaries.

Norwich's task was summed up perfectly by the erudite Bennett. Match Luton for effort and endeavour and you would reasonably expect the inevitable skills gap to tilt this contest in Norwich's favour. City's recent formline is poor. One point from their last 18 in the Premier League and fresh from a 5-0 mauling at Liverpool. But those events at Anfield last weekend and the fall out may spell trouble for Luton.

Any hint of complacency inside the camp at hosting modest opponents evaporated as Norwich's dejected players trooped away from Merseyside. Bennett acknowledged the Canaries owe those loyal travelling supporters who braved snow and ice to reach Anfield last weekend a performance.

Luton will be gutsy and committed, but Norwich will go through to the FA Cup fifth. Or else the post-mortem after Liverpool will pale into insignificance.

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