Paddy Davitt: Why Ben Godfrey looks at home in the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ben Godfrey was an unused substitute the last time Newcastle United visited Carrow Road. Now he will be centre stage.
Cut through the reality of a painful 4-1 Premier League bow at Liverpool, and there was enough positives to engender plenty of optimism for this weekend's homecoming.
Among them was how a 21-year-old former defensive midfielder turned rapidly maturing centre back looked so comfortable under intense scrutiny at Anfield.
Godfrey would be the first to accept his share of collective responsibility for the first half carnage on Merseyside when the game was effectively decided. But the manner of the defender's response after the interval spoke volumes regarding his character and belief.
This is a player with less than 30 league starts for Norwich City in his entire career. Yet he emerged as the defensive leader, in front of Tim Krul, of a backline trying to subdue Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and the rest of the Reds' glittering cast list.
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The way he attacked defensive corners after the break, or threw his body in the way of strikes and flung himself at near post interceptions underlined the sentiments he later expressed when speaking to the assembled media after the match.
Godfrey insisted he was not there to be a 'tourist, taking pictures and idolising all those players. I've got a job to do.' What a refreshingly fearless approach when it would have been easier, given his youth and relative inexperience, to cower and shrink in the midst of that early barrage.
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Perhaps it should come as no real surprise given how he grabbed his chance with an emergency call up to central defence during last season's festive period.
Not one backward step did he take for the remainder of that thrilling Championship title-winning run in as he forged a sturdy barrier alongside Christoph Zimmermann. By Aston Villa and those epic celebrations few if any were questioning Daniel Farke's judgement to re-deploy Godfrey from the all-action holding midfielder who had driven Shrewsbury Town to two Wembley appearances during a season-long loan stint.
One of the fascinating sub-plots to Norwich City's Premier League season is which of the club's youth brigade really takes a major leap forward.
Who can not only prove they were too good for the Championship but flourish in even more testing terrain?
Both Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis endured some bumpy moments against Liverpool but much like Godfrey warmed to the task as City gradually established a foothold.
While Farke's faith in Todd Cantwell to earn a start, ahead of the likes of Patrick Roberts or Onel Hernandez, was repaid by what his head coach labelled the best first half display of any visiting player at Anfield on Friday night.
But of all those runners and riders Godfrey may emerge as the pace setter.
With Zimmermann out following knee surgery and injury doubts around Timm Klose the former York trainee has the perfect platform to cement his place in Farke's starting line up.
Yes, mistakes are inevitable when that rawness is periodically exposed in high calibre company over these coming months. But the physical attributes, the calmness in possession and the range of long passing all suggest the raw material is there.
What Farke cannot instil is the mentality we witnessed against Jurgen Klopp's side, to take a step forward in unfamiliar surroundings against the best in Europe and, for his head coach, the best in the world right now.
There may have been no league points banked, following City's brave response after half-time, but Godfrey certainly laid down a personal marker.
To buck the trend this season Norwich will need a good portion of his team mates to do the same.