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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 13:29 UK

Canaries shape up for new season

By Alex Hill
BBC Blast Reporter, Norfolk

For Norwich City fans, last season could not have gone any worse following a relegation to League One - but after a successful pre-season, spirits are once again raised at Carrow Road.

Manager Bryan Gunn, himself a new signing in many ways much to most fans' delight, has secured the signings of 12 players with only one - Ben Alnwick - having signed on loan, from Tottenham Hotspur.

Michael Theokiltos
Michael Theokiltos signs for Norwich's new season

The 22-year-old keeper will provide an experienced back-up to Australian goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos.

Big central defender Michael Nelson has impressed in the games he's played, as well as showing he could be a serious threat from set pieces in the opposition's penalty box.

Danish defender Jens Berthell-Askou, recently signed on a two-year contract and also looks to be a great acquisition by Gunn, after being largely impressive in the Canaries' tour of Scotland.

"We were hopeful of getting some new faces in and adding to the squad and making it very competitive," said Gunn.

"This will give us the best chance of being successful in League One," he added.

Gunn hasn't been afraid to shop locally for his new squad.

After securing his dream move from Exeter, Norwich-born midfielder Matt Gill has already showed signs of the grit and determination which will be needed to win the tough midfield battles this season - he brings with him lots of experience in the lower leagues.

Midfielders Stephen Hughes and Owain Tudur Jones will provide strong competition for a midfield starting place, while winger Simon Whaley will add pace and an alternative attacking threat to the side, which will accommodate for the departure of Lee Croft, who joined Derby County.

While failing to capture striker Alan Lee, Gunn finally secured Grant Holt and Goran Maric at Carrow Road.

Gran Holt
Grant Holt hopes to bring his goal-scoring skills to the Canaries

Holt, who signed from Shrewsbury Town recently after being linked with the Canaries towards the end of last season, scored an impressive 20 goals for the Shrews last season.

He'll be hoping for a similar return for the Canaries in League One over the coming months.

Simon Lappin and Matty Pattison also appear to be back in Gunn's first-team plans and along with the return of youngsters Chris Martin and Michael Spillane from their successful loan spell at troubled Luton Town, Gunny's squad appears to finally be taking shape.

Wes Hoolahan will be looking to re-capture the form that persuaded former manager Glenn Roeder to sign him from Blackpool.

His performances during the closed season have gained rave reviews and City fans will hope his skill and eye for a killer ball will lead to many assists in the new campaign, but the future of Darel Russell remains increasingly uncertain, with the club rejecting a recent offer of £500,000 for the player from Premier League new boys Burnley.

Positive pre-season

On the pitch, pre-season results have been extremely positive.

After big wins over local non-league sides Fakenham Town and Dartford Town, City embarked on their now regular tour of Scotland, in which they won every game.

Gunn has been happy with the way pre-season has gone for his team and the quality of new players he's been able to bring to the club.

Norwich City training at Carrow Road
Norwich City players prepare for the new season at Carrow Road

"The way the lads have been working in pre season has been very encouraging and it's also given me the opportunity to bring in players to fill a lot of the spaces we had after the end of last season," he said.

"We're delighted with the standard of players we've brought in."

City's new look side recently played their first game back at Carrow Road in a pre-season friendly against a Manchester United XI.

Although it was a rather inexperienced United side with little first-team experience, the touch and technique of possible future Premier League players proved to be a good test for the new-look City team.

While City fans may have been expecting one of the new signings to put on a show, the name on everyone's lips after the game was that of Tom Adeyemi.

Some Canaries supporters may be un-familiar with the young youth prospect, but the coaching staff have clearly sat up and taken notice of his emerging talents.

As well as scoring a superb long-range effort which proved to be the Canaries only goal of the game and his third so far this pre-season, the young midfielder showed great strength, composure and ability which was somewhat reminiscent of watching a young Patrick Vieira.

Everything now looks to be in place in time for Norwich City's first game of the season against Colchester United on Saturday, 8 August, at Carrow Road.

Norwich City fans, as ever will be right behind the team and a full house at Carrow Road every other week is sure to spur the players on.

The attendance of 13,381 at the Manchester United game would have been the third highest crowd attendance in League One last season.

Chris Goreham
Chris Goreham will commentate on every game for BBC Radio Norfolk

BBC Radio Norfolk's Norwich City correspondent Chris Goreham has followed the Canaries throughout their pre-season campaign and believes City's build-up so far has been highly impressive.

"Preparations could not have gone better and I think all Norwich fans will now be cautiously optimistic," he said.

"I just hope that the success the club has had so far this summer can be translated into league success in the coming season."

After the disappointment of relegation at the end of last season, this summer was always going to prove a crucial time for getting the club back on its feet again.

From a new chief executive to 12 summer signings, Norwich City Football Club appears ready to compete in League One this coming season.

Pre-season for the Canaries has not only proved valuable time for players to regain fitness and mould the squad together, but has given manager Bryan Gunn the chance to shape things the way he wanted and give the Canaries the best chance of having a successful season.

Hear exclusive commentary of every match, home and away, with BBC Radio Norfolk on 95.1, 95.6 and 104.4FM.



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