Damo makes it into Roeder's plans

Michael Bailey Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder has sung the praises of his latest new recruit after handing academy product Damon Lathrope his first professional contract.

Michael Bailey

Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder has sung the praises of his latest new recruit after handing academy product Damon Lathrope his first professional contract.

The 18-year-old central midfielder has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Canaries and Roeder believes Lathrope could make an impact on the first team by the start of next season.

"He has a very good mental attitude," said the Norwich manager. "He's a confident young man, but with no arrogance, which I like. This is now the first step on the bottom rung of the ladder. He's got a lot of hard work ahead of him and this is just the start.


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"We are there to help him, but he's got to meet us halfway to show he's got the desire to become a first team player, which I think he can be. Maybe not this season, but certainly by the start of next season."

Lathrope caught Roeder's eye during the 5-1 reserve drubbing by Ipswich last year, in which Roeder described the midfielder as the only positive to come from the match.

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Although Roeder joked he only knew him as 'Damo', the youngster has made a considerable impression on his manager and has become the first academy scholar to be given a professional deal this season.

The midfielder from Stevenage, who joined Norwich's academy two years ago from a financially struggling Cambridge United youth set-up, has impressed Roeder in recent weeks and has been training with the first team.

Norwich also have the option of an extra year on Lathrope's contract and both manager and player are happy with the deal.

"He's a young lad who's impressed me since I've been here," Roeder said. "I've had him training with the first team most days and he's handled himself very well.

"His strengths are technical ones. He's a technically gifted player with a lovely first touch. He's got good composure on the ball and good vision. He's also got good stamina and can last 90 minutes.

"But what he's got to do, and what we need to help him with, is build him up to get some power in his body. He's quite a small player physically, but I'm a patient person and because of those technical abilities I think it's worth giving him the contract."

Lathrope has made 11 appearances for the reserves this season, plus 16 for the under-18s, where he has scored three goals, and he was first approached about his contract by Roeder on New Year's Day.

"About two or three weeks ago I travelled with the first team to Crystal Palace and the manager spoke to me and said he would be talking to me about my contract soon," Lathrope said.

"He said I needed to keep working hard, and a few weeks later he brought me in before training and gave me the contract. It was some nice news to get before training - I had a good day after that."

He added: "After training with the first team I feel like one of the lads and feel I can achieve high things here."

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