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FA Cup run could help Norwich’s bid for Premier League survival, says Dean Smith

Charlton Athletic v Norwich City – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – The Valley
(Image credit: Steven Paston)

Dean Smith feels an extended FA Cup run can help boost Norwich’s fight for Premier League survival.

The Canaries head to Wolves for Saturday’s fourth-round tie having hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 win at rivals Watford before the winter break.

While Norwich have played more games than the teams below them – with bottom club Burnley holding four matches in hand – there is renewed belief within Smith’s squad for the challenges ahead.

Smith, who took over from Daniel Farke in November, expects momentum from a positive FA Cup performance to naturally roll over into their battle to stay up.

“When I first came in, my remit was to try and keep us in the Premier League. We know the importance of that, but for me the FA Cup is important too,” Smith said.

“For the players in their careers, the fans and the football club – if you can go and win a trophy then it is such a fillip for everybody.

“I believe that you can go and do both, the fact that this tie is at the end of our winter break has given us a chance to go and recharge.”

Smith added: “I am also big believer of that momentum – going to Charlton (in the third round), we were on a run of defeats at the time and getting the win just broke that sequence. Now we have just won back-to-back Premier League games as well.

“It is going to be tough at Wolves, but it is a tie we are looking forward to and hoping that we can go and progress.”

Smith is expected to rotate his squad at Molineux, with midfielders Mathias Normann and Billy Gilmour fit again following their recent injury lay-offs.

American forward Josh Sargent will be hoping for another chance to impress, having secured his first Premier League goals in the win at Watford – one which came from an instinctive finish.

“We knew that he had the potential, we have had to wait for him to integrate and find his feet, which he has done,” said Smith of the summer recruit from Werder Bremen.

“His performances have been good, what he has needed is the goals. He has got them now and it will certainly give him a big boost.”

Midfielder Todd Cantwell left Norwich ahead of the transfer deadline to join Sky Bet Championship side Bournemouth on loan for the rest of the season.

Smith admitted it was a disappointment not to have seen the best of the 23-year-old.

“We were all hoping Todd could recapture the form that we had seen in the previous Premier League campaign and I gave him a start in my very first game,” said Smith.

“We had been working very hard with him, but unfortunately he just didn’t recapture that form and he felt it was the right time to go and get some games elsewhere.

“He wasn’t in the squad because of his form, whether that be down to a lack of confidence, I don’t know.

“It certainly wasn’t a lack of attitude, I found him a really good young man to work with.”

Smith added: “Each player has their own individual career to look after.

“Obviously Todd thought it was best for him to move at this stage, and we agreed.”

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