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Norwich boss criticises late kickoff as fans face 500-mile round trip to Anfield

Norwich boss Dean Smith has criticised the scheduling of his side’s FA Cup clash against Liverpool at Anfield, saying an 8.15pm kickoff is “too late” for visiting fans.

The Canaries head to Merseyside for the second time in 10 days to face a Liverpool team who won a record ninth League Cup against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.

Smith is unhappy with a number of aspects of his side’s upcoming fixtures, both for supporters and his squad.

“Certainly it (the Liverpool game) is too late for the away fans to travel and to be expected to travel back,” he said of Wednesday’s tie.

Norwich issued a statement on Sunday expressing “disappointment and frustration” at the news the home game against Chelsea will be rearranged if either team progresses in the FA Cup.

The fixture is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 19 at 3pm, but could be brought forward to Thursday, March 10 at 7.30pm. That would give Norwich little time to prepare ahead of a game at Leeds on Sunday, March 13 and Smith insisted fans have not been considered.

“They certainly haven’t been, I don’t think us as a football team have either. It’s two big games against teams who are around us, Brentford and Leeds,” Smith said.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip (L) and Norwich City's Adam Idah during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Why [the Chelsea game] can’t be on the Tuesday or the Wednesday, heaven knows, or certainly the Premier League fixture-makers are the only ones who know why.

“I know it’s a Champions League night, but certainly the precedent was set before when it was a Champions League night and Burnley played Liverpool, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t be playing on the Tuesday and Wednesday as well.”

Smith added: “I certainly echo [the club’s sentiments]. It’s sandwiched now in between two massive games for us, massive fixtures.

“The fact that it’s being played on the Thursday as well gives us very little time to prepare for the Leeds United game, so it’s very rare that games get brought forward and the announcement has come as a bit of a surprise to all of us.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp brings on Liverpool's oldest and youngets ever Cup final platyers James Milner (C) and Harvey Elliott (R) during the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool could make changes after the Carabao Cup final went to a marathon penalty shootout, but Smith is wary of the depth of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

“The fact that it went to 120 minutes means they will probably make some changes, but they made some changes from playing Inter Milan in Europe the game before they played us last time,” Smith said.

“They’ve got a squad capable of making those changes and we have to be prepared for them.

“Liverpool are a wonderful team, we know that, but we’ll certainly take confidence from the games that we’ve already played in the cup and also against Liverpool last week.”

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