City report card: Premier League calling for Omobamidele

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, NorwichPicture

Young Andrew Omobamidele has impressed during his stint at centre-back.

Daniel Farke has often described the opportunity handed to young players as similar to taking them to a door. In Andrew Omobamidele's case, he has smashed it off its hinges. 

It's easy to forget his introduction into Norwich City's backline was born from necessity. 

With Ben Gibson's injury proving to be as bad as initially feared and Christoph Zimmermann also picking up a season-ending knock, he was left as the only remaining fit defensive option. Farke could have elected to utilise Alex Tettey's experience in the final nine matches of the season, but to do so would go against his natural coaching instinct.

Farke is a coach who prefers players to operate in their natural positions. He is a youth-enabler who will always opt for progressing an academy talent over a temporary fix that sees a senior professional perform out of their comfort zone. 

Many eyebrows were raised when City's head coach picked an 18-year-old to partner Grant Hanley. For numerous reasons, it's a rare occurrence to see such a young player performing in that position in the Championship. 

But Omobamidele has defied his age and played with such maturity during a portion of the season that is regarded by many as the crunch period. 

Inside the walls of Colney, there is plenty of excitement about his potential. That is why they intend for the Republic of Ireland U21 international to remain in the building, at least for the start of next season. 

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One area where Omobamidele has excelled is the physical side of the game. The teenager is already durable to Championship football and has the stature to go toe-to-toe with experienced target men. 

His physical profile is one of the elements fuelling the excitement surrounding his potential. 

Omobamidele is physically superior to Ben Godfrey at the same point in their respective developments. He is boasting better physical data than the former City defender when he was 18, a mouthwatering prospect given what he has become in the Premier League.

Godfrey has just been voted Young Player of the Year at Everton after completing a club-record sale to Goodison Park last summer. 

Perhaps the easy option would have been to offer Omobamidele the chance to build on an impressive opening body of games in senior football with a loan move but the defender has time on his side and the feeling is that his development can still be progressed in house. 

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich and Ilias Chair of Queens Park Rangers in action during the Sky Bet Ch

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich and Ilias Chair of Queens Park Rangers in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, London Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 24/04/2021 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

After all, training with a Premier League squad on a daily basis represents a significant step up for a young man who only signed his first professional contract in December. 

Despite their intention to recruit another central defensive option this summer, after their previous campaign, City have a reasonable excuse for being top-heavy in that area of the pitch. The recent fitness records of Zimmermann, Gibson and Hanley merely emphasises that point. 

His ball-playing qualities have been another element that has pleased Farke. 

In Gibson's absence, there were concerns that City would lose the progressive passing from the back that helped change the directions of their spells of possession but that also helped break the lines. Whilst Omobamidele wasn't as adventurous in his distribution, he was still effective in his use of the ball. 

The key test for any young player is often the games following their debut, which can largely be fuelled by adrenaline and a desire to impress. 

Omobamidele has displayed a consistency that is rare for a young player. After that debut at Preston, his second professional game for City was a 7-0 drubbing of Huddersfield Town at Carrow Road. 

You could have forgiven the young centre-back for getting slightly carried away, but he was quickly grounded by his boss after full time who took him to one side before coaching him through his positioning at a throw-in in City's defensive third. 

Under Farke, Omobamidele has a coach who is committed to developing young players and rewards them with an opportunity should they impress in training and matches. 

Pre-season will serve as another door for the young Irishman, if he can showcase his talent and improve his performances even further, then he will be handed a chance to be involved in the Canaries' Premier League plans. 

His stature, comfort on the ball and fundamental defensive qualities suggest the only direction of travel for Omobamidele is up. Some in Ireland are already drawing comparisons to Rio Ferdinand, such remarks are premature at this stage, but his potential is clear. 

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich celebrates winning the Championship after the Sky Bet Championship mat

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich celebrates winning the Championship after the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 01/05/2021 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

In nine matches, the 18-year-old has shown himself to be ahead of other promising defensive options such as Akin Famewo, who will be given a chance to depart the club on a permanent basis this summer. 

If Omobamidele can continue his development at the same rate as the last month, then there's little doubt that he will be the next major talent off the conveyer belt providing he retains his commitment to improving, something Farke will demand. 

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