City boss on why Dowell return is a major plus
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Fit-again Kieran Dowell will add a touch of class to Norwich City's Championship promotion push.
The highly-rated attacker midfielder made his comeback from an ankle injury in the 2-1 midweek win at Reading that turned up on the heat on the Canaries' promotion rivals.
Dowell looked a classy addition following his summer move from Everton, but the 23-year-old had been out for three months following ankle ligament damage suffered against Preston.
City head coach Daniel Farke unleashed the midfielder at the interval on Wednesday night alongside Todd Cantwell, before Alex Tettey replaced him in stoppage time to close out another 2-1 victory.
"I actually left him on the pitch a bit longer than I wanted," admitted Farke. "He was out for three months and just back in training for eight days. I got the feeling beforehand this was the day for 20, 25 minutes perhaps. But my gut feeling at half-time I felt he could make the difference.
"For a first game very impressive. He had many good ideas, he was able to initialise several good attacks. He was also pretty close to scoring and he showed the quality perhaps we have been missing for a long time.
"Step by step we will have him back. We still have to be a bit careful with him but I am happy for him.
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"I was really happy with both of them. Todd himself is only back seven or eight days on the training pitch. He had some cameos before this game but I thought he looked sharp. He was important to a really good second half. We had complete control.
"Our counter pressing was good and we were playing very high up the pitch. Todd and Kieran helped that."
Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki sealed the latest win that left Farke hailing the Canaries' ruthless edge.
"To carry these games over the line is what winners do. I am delighted with this mentality to never give up. It is the soft skills I always talk about," he said.
"They had so many offensive threats on the pitch but apart from a crazy end in the last 60 seconds with a few corners and Michael (McGovern's) save they didn't manage to do that.
"The gameplan was to press them. We over-complicated a bit in our possession in the first half, not a bad first half, but I wanted more control and I wanted us to speed up our play.
"Emi had a cool finish and Teemu is one of the best strikers in this country. He is a great servant for us. He is crucial not only with his goals and assists but his pressing.
"On the penalties he is ice cold. He created many chances on the first post with good movements.
"He is relentless and for an offensive player to deliver every three days is perhaps more impressive than a defensive player. This consistency is remarkable."