What could the future hold for City’s star pupils after Premier League bow?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City came up short in the Premier League but led the way in top flight exposure for academy talent. Paddy Davitt assesses how all eight debutants fared and assesses the next steps.
Max Aarons (3,240 minutes of Premier League playing time in 2019/20)
Missed only two Premier League games, to underline how important he has become at Carrow Road after a breakout Championship title-winning season that saw him crowned the best young player in the Football League.
Another who has had to get used to inevitable speculation before, during and after every transfer window. Aarons is self-aware enough to know the Premier League exposed areas of his game that need attention.
There was a couple of torrid outings against Marcus Rashford and, inevitably, with City far less dominant in possession at the highest level he had to curb his natural attacking instincts.
But to have banked so much Premier League football at such a young age speaks volumes in regard to his temperament and maturity.
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Ben Godfrey (2,646 minutes)
- 1 Transfer rumour: Canaries interested in Celtic defender
- 2 City transfer rumours: West Ham show interest in £30m rated Aarons
- 3 Webber will continue to be 'brutally honest' at City
- 4 No West Ham contact for Aarons; Drmic wage hike unlikely
- 5 David Freezer: Emotions bubbling for City as Watford tee up a proper title race
- 6 Former City boss to leave post at the end of the season
- 7 QPR forced to deny manager is leaving ahead of City clash
- 8 City hot-shot out to prove point in Premier League, claims ex-Canary
- 9 'We want to top this season off properly' - Krul's message to fans
- 10 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
For a period literally the last man standing when Norwich City’s central defensive stocks reached emergency rations.
The powerhouse even had to go from game to game for a spell, limiting his training in between, to ease City through a particularly lean spell before a hernia operation followed the home hammering against Aston Villa.
Yes, Godfrey’s lack of experience and decision-making were exposed at the highest level.
But the 22-year-old should have been able to polish his craft alongside experienced, reliable partners on a regular basis.
That did not happen and as such the youngster was harshly exposed on occasion. But captaining the England Under-21s was a special personal accolade and given his age and homegrown status it was inevitable he would be touted with a summer move. Anyone who opts to purchase Godfrey is buying potential. He is a long way from the finished article.
Which is a tantalising prospect.
Todd Cantwell (2,500 minutes)
There might have been the odd eyebrow raised back on the opening night of the season at Liverpool when Cantwell’s name appeared in the Norwich starting line-up.
Given the Dereham prospect had not been a regular in the title-winning effort it was a measure of his accelerated progress.
But come the end of a breakthrough campaign no-one could surely question the attacking midfielder’s ability to mix it in the top flight. Take Teemu Pukki out of the equation – or the version before his foot injury at Leicester – and Cantwell looked the only other player capable of adding that elusive end product.
To notch six league goals in 37 appearances in your first tour at the highest level was an excellent haul.
There was also that eye-catching strike in the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. Cantwell is another of the young breed with major question marks around his future this summer.
Should he remain in the Premier League he has the technical quality and goal threat to push on.
Jamal Lewis (2,303 minutes)
All the rage in the transfer stakes at present, with Premier League champions Liverpool no less courting the attacking left-back. Even if they viewed him initially as an understudy to Andy Robertson that underlines the huge strides Lewis has made since becoming the first of Farke’s new wave to break through at Carrow Road.
We saw a different side to the former Luton Town youngster this season, in the way he responded to adversity after losing his place to Sam Byram. Until that point it had been a steep ascent for both club and country.
Byram’s season-ending hamstring injury might have opened the door again but Lewis was one of City’s better performers during the disappointing ‘Project Restart’ period. Prior to that there was a collector’s item of a match-winning goal to beat Leicester City in February, in what turned out to be the last Carrow Road game in front of spectators.
At this stage following the opening knockback, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool now return with an improved offer, or move on to other targets.
Should Lewis be here come the Championship kick-off, and his head is in the right place after a blurring spell of speculation around his future, there is no doubt he is one of the best at his craft in the Football League.
Adam Idah (221 minutes)
Not nearly enough game time for most Norwich fans last season, given the struggles of Pukki and Josip Drmic down the stretch.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international was denied a first Premier League goal when his snap header thudded against the post in the home defeat to Brighton.
There was another chance that went begging a few days later at Watford. But Idah showed enough threat during those end of season cameos to be a serious part of the conversation when deciding who can score the goals to get them upwardly mobile in the Championship.
A full Premier League debut at Manchester United must have been one to cherish, irrespective of the scoreline, and that FA Cup hat-trick at Preston earned headlines aplenty.
Farke labels him a natural born goalscorer, with a gift. City have embarked on a major refresh of the playing roster this summer. Greater involvement for Idah would certainly signal a page has been turned.
There is certainly no issues with his temperament, after the fearless manner he slotted that penalty in the FA Cup shoot-out against Tottenham in front of 58,000.
Josh Martin (32 minutes)
The former Arsenal trainee is viewed by Farke as a first team option, given he followed Idah from the development pool to train with the seniors.
Martin clocked up five substitute appearances following a late debut in that calamitous first game of the Project Restart era against Southampton.
Farke felt compelled to offer an apology for introducing Martin at the end of a 3-0 home defeat but the 18-year-old wide player does not lack for confidence for anyone who has closely observed him around more established team mates. Do not rule out a bigger role in the Championship,
if he can grab his chance in the manner City’s ‘fab four’ managed over these past two seasons.
Akin Famewo & Jordan Thomas (1 minute each)
Not a bad place to make your Premier League debut at Manchester City. The briefest of late cameos in a 5-0 final day.
Both profited from a number of injury absentees and suspensions that left Farke unable to fill his substitutes’ bench even with a second back-up keeper.
Famewo has the physique to handle the rough and tumble of the Championship but unless there is movement ahead of him in the pecking order this summer - in terms of potential exits - it is hard to see him forcing his way in.
Likewise Thomas, who will need a big season either at development level or away on loan to press his senior claims.