Chance for 'enthusiastic' City prospect to revive MK Dons loan
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City prospect Josh Martin should get the chance to press his claim for game-time at MK Dons this evening, after finding himself on the fringes so far during his loan spell.
The attacking midfielder claimed a goal and an assist from 11 appearances for the Canaries last season, coming off the bench to score a crucial equaliser during a 2-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Martin, 20, had also made five mostly brief Premier League appearances during 2019-20 after signing a professional contract until 2023.
After City’s promotion back to the top flight the former Arsenal trainee was allowed to join Canaries legend Russell Martin at League One side MK Dons for his first loan experience.
However, he has so far only made seven appearances and both starts have come in the EFL Trophy, with Martin leaving to take charge of Swansea just days before the start of the season.
Former Ipswich and West Ham youth coach Liam Manning was brought in, after cutting his teeth as a head coach in the Belgian second tier with Lommel and the 36-year-old has Milton Keynes seventh and in the play-off mix.
Martin’s caused looked likely to be helped by Manning recruiting Norwich U23s coach David Wright to his backroom team in August but the youngster has only been an unused substitute for four of the last eight League One games.
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That includes a 3-0 home defeat to promotion hopefuls Rotherham on Saturday, giving Martin a potential opening if he can impress in an EFL Trophy tie against Aston Villa U23s at Stadium MK tonight.
Martin has played all of a 2-1 win at Burton Albion and a 2-1 home win over Wycombe in the competition so far this season, as a striker, but the Dons playing a variation of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations doesn’t seem to have suited his skilful playmaker style in the league.
Toby Lock is sports editor of the Milton Keynes Citizen and gave us his verdict, explaining: “It's a tough system to fit into for wide players because Dons play with wing-backs, so if you're not up to it defensively, you're not doing half the job.
“He's been used in the Papa John's Trophy a bit more centrally, but both times the game seems to have passed him by.
“I'm not sure Russ leaving has had much of a bearing on his game time, or lack thereof, because it's effectively the same system being played under Manning.
“But with the likes of Hiram Boateng, Scott Twine and (Tottenham loanee) Troy Parrott in front of him in the pecking order through the middle, it will need a monumental effort for Martin to dislodge them.
“There's clearly something there though - his cameo appearances late in games have been enthusiastic, and he thumped the bar away at Ipswich with the final kick of the game which would have won it for Dons and made him a bit of a hero both here and back in Norwich I'm sure!”
Former Canaries midfielder Andrew Hughes has recently become loans manager at City, after Neil Adams was promoted to assistant sporting director, and will be monitoring Martin's progress closely as he keeps in regular contact with the youngster.