Canaries Debate: Sam Byram offering an alternative to Norwich City’s full-back options
PUBLISHED: 10:57 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 26 November 2019
Sam Byram follows a familiar trend of players recruited by Norwich City since Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke arrived at Carrow Road.
His career trajectory hasn't, as yet, followed the path that was mapped out when he made his league debut for Leeds United in 2012 as an 18-year-old.
Now, the full-back is looking for a second chance at City, with the hope to kick-start a career which has stalled following a move to West Ham United.
It was Neil Warnock who handed Byram his senior league debut in a game decided by ex-City striker Luciano Becchio as United beat Wolves 1-0 at Elland Road.
From there, Byram made 44 Championship appearances, earned rave reviews and was catching the attention of some Premier League sides.
Some at Elland Road were even calling for him to gain international recognition, as was the quality of his performances.
Eventually, two years later, Byram did get his top-flight move as West Ham beat off competition from Everton to secure the services of the right-back in January 2016.
His Hammers spell was plagued with injuries and, via a brief loan stint at Nottingham Forest last season, the right-back found his head on the chopping block as Manuel Pellegrini sought to re-shape his squad last summer.
Similarly to other recruits, Byram fitted the age profile and arrived with pedigree but had seen his career fall short of what many anticipated. Crucially, City's top brass saw a player they could mould who emphatically ticked the box of being low-risk but potentially high reward.
A reported fee of £750k brought Byram to Norfolk with many expecting him to be an understudy for the progressive Max Aarons, who is currently embarking on a similar path Byram forged at Leeds.
Yet, since his arrival, two of his three starts have seen City record impressive victories against Manchester City and Everton respectively, which begs the question, is Byram a player who must start going forwards this season?
Against the champions, he nullified the threat posed by Raheem Sterling, putting in a defensive shift that saw him lauded suitably.
At Burnley, Byram was operating with a slight ankle knock whilst Aarons occupied the treatment table. His performance didn't contain the sparkle of a week prior in a City side that struggled to contend with the intensity of the Clarets press.
Aarons returned and Byram was back in the shadows; left waiting patiently for another opportunity.
With the continued isolation of the full-backs, Farke needed a tactical reshuffle but with Jamal Lewis injured following international duty, the German turned to Byram to aid the creation of defensively resilient wide areas.
This time, it was at left-back where he was called upon. In tandem with Onel Hernandez, Byram one again put in a balanced performance that proved his underlying talents. Extracting those consistently within the Premier League is the challenge.
For Farke, it broadens the debate beyond merely Lewis and Aarons, both of whom were integral to the way City played during their Championship title triumph.
It remains to be seen whether the full-back can nail down a starting berth, but he does offer a suitable option if required.