Super-kid won't be thrown in at deep end

PUBLISHED: 07:15 15 December 2006 | UPDATED: 09:54 14 September 2010

Canaries super-kid Chris Martin is closing in on a place in the Norwich City first team squad - but he won't be thrown in at the deep end.

By CHRIS LAKEY

Canaries super-kid Chris Martin is closing in on a place in the Norwich City first team squad - but he won't be thrown in at the deep end.

The 18-year-old from Beccles played a starring role in the Academy side's 5-1 romp at Portsmouth to earn a place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup - all in front of watching City boss Peter Grant.

But while Grant admits that Martin had caught his eye early in his Carrow Road reign, he says he will handle him, and City's other young prospects, with kid gloves.

“Since the first game I'd seen him he's been in my thoughts,” said Grant. “He knows what I think of him.

“I have spoken to him privately and he knows he has got a good chance. He is very close to the first team squad, it's just been unfortunate the way the games have fallen

“He is one that has a bright future if he keeps improving the way he is. He is fortunate enough he has very good coaches. They know what I think of him, it has just been unfortunate where youth team games have either been away from home or, like on Saturday, it was put back to 11.30 which kills me a little bit. If I had a more settled side he'd probably be knocking on the door a lot harder because I think it is unfair to put him straight in.

“I think these young kids are near enough ready, but I have to have a settled team first. I don't have that with so many changes and I don't want to put them into that environment where you have to keep changing and changing and changing and putting them in and asking them to do a job they are probably not capable of at this moment in time.

“I think that would be a total injustice on them.”

Martin and defender Michael Spillane both played at Fratton Park on Wednesday, but while Grant was delighted with their performances, his praise also carried a message to keep the youngsters on their toes.

“Chris Martin did smashing, he is a good talent, but he knows he has to work harder, or think harder when the opposition has got the ball,” said Grant. “He has to make sure he is thinking like a striker even when we are defending, he has to be picking up areas where he can influence the opposition. There is no doubt he has got a talent, it's just a matter of producing that now. Winning the FA Youth Cup is fantastic, but if I get players through to the first team, that's winning the FA Cup for me and some of these boys have got a great chance.”

Spillane blotted his copybook with a late mistake that led to the Pompey consolation, but with Grant troubled by defensive injuries he will be in his thoughts for the trip to Southampton tomorrow.

“He did tremendously well, but then tries to be clever and loses a goal because he is not thinking like a defender,” said Grant. “He has to learn that if you do that at the higher level you go, you are going to be punished. But there is no doubt he has got a talent, it's just a matter of nurturing that now and understanding what it is to be a top defender.”

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