Having been absent for most of Norwich City's miserable Premier League relegation, Andrew Omobamidele's return to the Canaries' set-up felt like a breath of fresh air in the summer.

With Dean Smith, his players and everyone else connected to the club keen to turn the page on a disastrous 12 months in NR1, the Irishman's tangible presence in their pre-season was a major positive when it was most needed.

Perhaps Stuart Webber only completed four new signings after City's demotion to the Championship, but Omobamidele's performances in the preparations for a second-tier assault suggested he was a Premier League-level player they hadn't had at their disposal previously.

Even only in a pre-season fixture, his reception of the captain's armband was an indication of his dressing room stature, and at only 20 years of age. That tendency to lead by example continued throughout the summer and into the Championship, his leadership present not in regular berating of team-mates but with the cool head needed in the heat of the battle.

In that way it's easy to see what he's learned from Grant Hanley, a captain of few words but whose unerring adherence to the yellow and green cause underlines the standards required of his colleagues.

Complimenting these leadership strengths Omobamidele possesses are his footballing qualities. The young international's technical ability is clear to see, and arguably outweighs that of all of his Championship counterparts. Even Ben Godfrey, who City eventually sold to Everton for £25million, looked less naturally blessed than the man who eventually took his old shirt number.

Speed, strength, intelligence, passing, athleticism. These are all skills both requisite in the achievement of modern-day centre-backs and part of Omobamidele's exhaustive skillset.

These are the attributes that have come to the fore in his strongest spells this season - the 1-0 win at Sunderland was characterised by his and Hanley's bravery, the defeat of Millwall predicated on their solidity - but once again, injury has deprived Norwich fans of the consistency they crave at this level.

The former Leixlip schoolboy has already missed a third of City's league games this term due to an ankle injury sustained in the defeat to Watford in October. The World Cup break has come at a good time to facilitate his re-integration, but questions are bubbling under about the fitness of a man who's been unavailable for more than half of his side's games since being promoted to the senior side.

Omobamidele has the correct mindset to deal with these issues and bounce back with the right mentality in future, but he'll be frustrated at his sidelining during his team's toughest period on the pitch.

The Pink Un: Omobamidele has formed a strong defensive partnership with City captain Grant Hanley.Omobamidele has formed a strong defensive partnership with City captain Grant Hanley. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

To focus on the negatives would be a misrepresentation of the defender's season as a whole, however. Smith's men have been consistently berated for their lack of creative spark, and yet find themselves fifth in the table. His defenders are surely due significant credit for that.

During Norwich's nine-game Championship unbeaten run they kept four clean sheets and conceded just seven times, with Omobamidele starting each of those games. Even after his biggest mishap, a stray pass in his own half against Blackpool, he managed to recover the ball before Kenny Dougall could get a shot away.

Combine that with his in-possession relationship with Max Aarons down the right side and his Virgil van Dijk-esque effortless aesthetic, and emerges the sort of multi-purpose centre-back most football clubs are craving.

But there's still the feeling, as with this Norwich side as a whole, that there are more gears for Omobamidele to find. The potential is clear to all football fans, but there's still work to do before he can achieve a move such as those by Godfrey, Emi Buendia and the like.

With injury problems expected to be behind him, a starting place surely waiting for him, and a group around him that could take off at any time, all the ingredients are there for a fantastic second half of the season.

If that potential is reached, he may well become the best defender in this league. In that sense, he's the epitome of this Norwich City side.