In what feels like a state of flux around Norwich City, Kenny McLean is a constant.

The Scottish midfielder has been indispensable to a series of head coaches at Carrow Road, starting with Daniel Farke.

By his own self-effacing sentiment he may not be to the liking of every City fan, but within the tight confines of the inner circle his value as a player and a personality are long since proven.

A new deal penned and announced in November contains the potential to keep him in Norfolk until 2026. That would be quite the stint for a player who arrived for a reported £200,000 from Aberdeen in January 2018.

Much of the discourse around sporting director Stuart Webber’s recent media round centred on past, present and future recruitment. But McLean has delivered ample value for money and a return on that investment.

The 31-year-old has two Championship promotions under his belt, and if Webber has set the bar again at a third attempt the other side of a fascinating summer transfer window and a priceless six-week pre-season, then McLean will be a key component.

Injury cruelly intervened to curtail his influence after damaging knee ligaments in the 1-0 home league defeat to Sheffield United on April 1. It had an echo of the season-ending knee issue that robbed him of appearing for Scotland at the delayed Euros in 2021. For all the obvious promotion triumphs and ‘mayoral’ celebrations it has been far from plain sailing.

But David Wagner is a fan. There was a subtle tweak to the demands placed on the Scot's broad shoulders when the German first arrived that saw McLean drift into a deeper-lying quarterback role between Norwich centre backs.

The quality of his passing range should surprise no-one. Perhaps effort, endeavour and energy are qualities one more readily associates with a player who has always felt like a facilitator for others than someone who can lead the charge. 

But in the fertile early part of Wagner’s Carrow Road tenure McLean was a stand out performer. Those questions around finding a balance in the City midfield that marries industry with creativity, alas, returned and grew louder on the back of one win from the last 11.

Webber baulked at any suggestion losing McLean, Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson to injury down the stretch was a failure of successive recruitment windows or a structural imbalance to the squad. But the alarming slide in productivity did reinforce McLean’s status for what lies ahead.

The Pink Un:

Worth re-visiting Wagner’s early words on his impact as a ball player and a progressive influence.

“Kenny brings everything to play this role. He should play a position where he has to have the ability to play long range passes, and short range passes. He is a very intelligent player as well,” he said.

“And obviously, you have to be able to defend and be aggressive in the right moments, especially when this counter press situations come – you have to be intelligent, football intelligent, to really see the danger in the right moments, to build up the rest of the defence quick enough, and he has everything.

“It’s important that he stays calm, that he does not get too emotional, that he keeps his position, even if more or less something doesn’t go right on the pitch as the play develops, and it will never always go right over the whole time.

“This is something where he for sure can progress but everything what I’ve seen from him he is a top professional and I’m very happy with him having him in in my team.”

In a quest for the right blend in a vital area of Championship combat it is hard to see any Norwich equation that does not feature McLean.

There was an underlying thread in Webber’s words about finding signings who have that ability to create big chances for a forward line he is convinced can punch its weight in the second tier. That would infer a renewed focus on what Norwich can do to improve their fitful work in the final third.

But with Isaac Hayden returning to sender, Liam Gibbs still on a learning curve and Jacob Sorensen yet to make a persuasive case for regular inclusion a fully-fit McLean will return to Colney in late June as a valuable commodity.