The sight of Jon Rowe appearing at the side of the pitch readying himself for a return for Norwich City was greeted with a large cheer from their travelling support at Deepdale. 

After two months away, he was back. He took little time to remind everyone of his capabilities as he stretched the Preston backline to win a corner. In an impactful 20-minute cameo in Lancashire last weekend, it looked like there were few cobwebs to sweep away. 

Rowe injected enthusiasm, energy and an additional dimension into City's attacking efforts. The question now is how on earth David Wagner fits him back into a starting XI that has been on a staggering run of form to push Norwich to the cusp of play-off qualification. 

Given how thin the squad has been looking of late owing to injuries and the demands placed on a small group in an intense block of games prior to this weekend, it will be a welcome headache for the City boss and his coaching team in the weeks ahead. 

The fact that the debate even exists is a testament to Rowe and his performances this season. That is now the importance he has grown into, having not made a single senior start before the opening-day victory over Hull. 

Whilst the next few weeks will be dedicated to building up his fitness reserves into a position where a start is more feasible, the long-term question of how they slot him back into the side is a head-scratching one. 

City were forced to push Josh Sargent through the pain barrier upon his return around the new year owing to poor form. Without Rowe, Norwich have been winning, and that makes any case for an immediate recall more testing. 

In the 11 games that Rowe has been sidelined, Norwich have won seven, drawn two and lost two. He is returning to a side that has been performing well and gaining impressive results even in his absence. 

Rowe has played on either flank throughout the campaign - starting predominantly on the left but spending more matches on the right as the season grew older before his hamstring injury against QPR in February. 

On the left, Borja Sainz has found form and is beginning to show exciting signs of what he could develop into when that adaptation to English football is completed. He has added fire, energy and creativity to City's attacking areas. 

Gabby Sara has made light work of a positional change into a more inverted right-wing position - something he has a history of doing during his time at Sao Paulo. That alteration has enabled Marcelino Nunez a consistent run of games alongside Kenny McLean, something he has relished. 

The Pink Un: Jon Rowe replaced Borja Sainz in last weekend's victory over Preston.Jon Rowe replaced Borja Sainz in last weekend's victory over Preston. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Ashley Barnes' performances have offered encouragement. Few players offer the tactical nous or grit that the experienced forward has injected. His physicality allows Norwich an out ball when faced with a high press. 

Sainz seems the obvious candidate, but taking him out at this stage of the campaign would be tough to manage, given his contributions and personal improvement in recent months. 

A front four of Sainz, Sara and Rowe, spearheaded by Sargent, is mouthwatering but downplays Barnes' impact. He is pivotal to the cohesion of City's attacking rhythm and is the perfect foil for Sargent. 

It is a conundrum that will intensify should Rowe continue to make an impact as a substitute in the games ahead. 

For now, it will be about proving himself from the bench. That could be something that benefits Norwich and Rowe in the weeks ahead. 

It was evident on Saturday that pitted against tiring defences and in games of fine margins, Rowe can and does make an impact. That hunger to create headlines and hog the spotlight is something his personality relishes. 

That is a role that Rowe will be keen to master as he seeks to make up for lost time. Ask anyone around Colney, and they will tell you that his will to return has been strong - that has contributed to a faster-than-expected recovery. 

He will back himself to work his way in, wherever that spot appears, but also to nail it down again. Rowe had a similar challenge in pre-season and won the battle by a distance. 

That self-confidence that runs through the young winger has been pivotal to his no-fear attitude. Rowe is a player who has written his own scripts over the course of the campaign, be it the howitzer against Hull, the Portman Road double or the Goal of the Season contender away to the Tigers in January. 

This is the period of the season when those players come to the forefront in matches defined by small margins—especially in the context of play-off football. 

The Pink Un: Jon Rowe may have to impact matches for Norwich City as a substitute.Jon Rowe may have to impact matches for Norwich City as a substitute. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Rowe will be determined to add an extra chapter to his City career. With his future heavily debated this summer, it would be timely for his cause in any event—a new contract at Carrow Road is not completely out of the question. 

The objective over the next few weeks will be about getting further minutes into Rowe's legs, and Wagner has made a point of, by and large, not rushing players back sooner than required. 

With bigger prizes to play for in the weeks ahead, all being well, managing Rowe will be pivotal. Where and how he breaks back into the team remains to be seen. 

But after everything that Wagner has had to endure from a fitness perspective in recent weeks, his return and the selection questions that it throws up are preferable to what came before it.