‘As an offensive player you need to be sharp’ – Loanee still a firm part of plans for Canaries boss

Patrick Roberts was a late substitute during Norwich City's home loss to Aston Villa Picture: Paul C

Patrick Roberts was a late substitute during Norwich City's home loss to Aston Villa Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Daniel Farke insists Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts very much remains part of his plans at Norwich City, after working to improve his fitness levels.

The 22-year-old is yet to start in the Premier League for the Canaries and came off the bench in the 74th minute of Saturday's 5-1 loss to Aston Villa - with the hosts already trailing 4-0.

Roberts' only start so far came during the shock 1-0 loss away to League Two side Crawley in the EFL Cup second round in August, despite featuring regularly during pre-season and particularly impressing during a 5-1 friendly win over Championship side Luton.

"He's not far way and he stepped up a lot in the last two weeks," City's head coach explained. "After pre-season and in the beginning of the season there was a period when he seemed to be a bit tired.

"He had a difficult season last year with many injuries and not many games and we put a lot of load on him in pre-season, and you got the feeling he looked a bit tired."

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The former England Under-20 winger enjoyed a successful two-and-a-half years on loan at Celtic, winning three Scottish titles, but couldn't prevent Girona's relegation from the Spanish top flight last season.

Roberts made 21 appearances for the ambitious Catalan club - who are part-owned by the wealthy Abu Dhabi company which owns Manchester City - but only six were starts, missing two months of the season with a hamstring injury and claiming just one assist.

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The Fulham academy product - who is under contract with his parent club until 2022 - has spent much of his career on the right wing but can play on the left or centrally, and will be looking to catch Farke's eye during the international break, ahead of the Canaries' trip to Bournemouth a week on Saturday.

"Especially as an offensive player you need to be sharp and you need to be quick in the head to take the right decisions," Farke continued, speaking ahead of the loss to Villa. "Also for his game he needs to be pretty mobile and to be brave in the one-against-one situations.

"When you're tired it's difficult to perform on this level but my feeling was in the last two weeks he improved from day to day during training. He's improving and not far away."

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