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After 16 years of dreaming, injured City star will have a few more weeks for it to become reality

Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann were Daniel Farke's go-to central defensive pairing during the Championship run-in last season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann were Daniel Farke's go-to central defensive pairing during the Championship run-in last season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Christoph Zimmermann has had to wait 16 years for his Premier League dream to become reality - so another six weeks shouldn't be a problem.

Timm Klose and Grant Hanley will be hoping they get a shot at Norwich City's Premier League opener, following injury to Christoph Zimmermann. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesTimm Klose and Grant Hanley will be hoping they get a shot at Norwich City's Premier League opener, following injury to Christoph Zimmermann. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City confirmed on Wednesday the 26-year-old German centre-back will be sidelined for the whole of pre-season, and may well miss the Canaries' opening few games of the top-flight campaign as a result.

However for a man fresh from signing a new four-year deal with City that was playing in the fourth tier of German football little more than two seasons ago, Zimmermann will be hoping his Premier League chance won't be put off for long.

"When you are young and 10 years old, of course your dream is to play in the Premier League," said Zimmermann, before his injury was publicly confirmed.

"But the older you get, the more realistic you become because especially with my case, I didn't think it was likely for me to play in the Premier League so it's more than I have ever expected.

Grant Hanley and Timm Klose proved a useful double act during Norwich City's 2017-18 campaign - although a lot has happened since then. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesGrant Hanley and Timm Klose proved a useful double act during Norwich City's 2017-18 campaign - although a lot has happened since then. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

"Even two years ago, I couldn't see the connection of how it was possible for me to first of all come over to England but then to play in the Championship and also have the opportunity to get promoted and then to play in the best league of the world.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet to be honest. I think it's the same for people around the club but as soon as the season starts, we know we will belong in the Premier League."

Daniel Farke will certainly hope to avoid further centre-back setbacks in pre-season, after Zimmermann underwent surgery last week.

City kick-off their Premier League return at Anfield against Liverpool on Friday, August 9 - little more than four weeks away. Norwich then host Newcastle and Chelsea at Carrow Road on successive weekends, after which the club will be hoping Zimmermann - a man with proven natural fitness - will be available; albeit he will have missed the entirety of pre-season.

With Zimmermann the most used centre-back by head coach Daniel Farke last term - including the German taking the captaincy for most of the Championship title-winning campaign - it will leave Grant Hanley, Timm Klose and Ben Godfrey to vie for City's starting XI come their big opener at the European champions.

At the same time, Farke will no doubt hope to get through his pre-season plans - which relocate to Germany for their two-game, 10-day tour from tomorrow - without any more injury blows to his central defensive cover.

Club captain Hanley, who had been touted with a possible loan exit earlier this summer, has 31 Premier League appearances to date - all coming during his Blackburn spell. His last appearance - and solitary top-flight goal - came in Rovers' 2011-12 campaign.

Klose's 10 Premier League outings - and goal in victory against Newcastle - were within the first few months of his move from Wolfsburg; his knee injury ultimately hitting the Canaries' survival hopes hard in 2016.

Like Zimmermann, 21-year-old Ben Godfrey has yet to taste Premier League football - although he did impress against Premier League opposition in cup competitions for Norwich last season and Shrewsbury the campaign before.

Godfrey and Zimmermann's pairing also excelled during last season's successful title run-in.

- For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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