Norwich City duo are proving injuries really can have a silver lining
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It felt like a major blow and in truth, it still shouldn’t be taken lightly – but the fact Norwich City didn’t appear to particularly miss either of their stricken wingers at The Hawthorns last weekend is definitely worth noting.
In fact, the way Chris Hughton has managed a few parts of the treacherous situation he was being confronted with a fortnight ago should be something he can take a lot of satisfaction from.
I’m pretty sure the Canaries boss doesn’t work like that – but the point still stands.
Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington are expected to be a few games away from knee and hamstring injury returns.
And Hughton’s squad has made sure their manager’s consolation words at the time, that injuries equal opportunities, were not hollow.
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The players have stepped up – and the manager has played it right.
Some City fans demand Nathan Redmond starts every game no matter what, due to his undoubted talent. But for me, Hughton has picked his moments right to bring the 19-year-old into the action and rely on his pace and spark.
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And in some ways, last Saturday at The Hawthorns proved the point.
Redmond was scintillating in his approach play. The only thing lacking, and quite often, was his final cross or shot. The man himself knew it – but it won’t affect him. The youngster has a supremely grounded head on his shoulders.
A little bit of class from a team-mate on Saturday showed Redmond is part of the right group to develop his game too.
As Redmond broke in wonderful fashion late on at the Baggies, his cross disappeared behind the goal – with Gary Hooper waiting in the box. The striker didn’t swing his arms around in unbounded frustration – he just turned and applauded his winger’s efforts in getting there.
“I thought Nathan did well, getting at defenders,” said Hooper. “His final ball was nearly there, but other than that he did really well. You forget he’s only 19. But the wing play he does is outstanding, he gets at defenders, he does what he does and when he puts it in the box, hopefully one of us is there.”
It’s not just Redmond, of course. The last two away games especially have seen Josh Murphy start to find his feet in the Premier League. All six of his first-team appearances have come as a substitute away from home – so that first Carrow Road outing is getting very close.
But again, Hughton deserves credit for how he has brought Murphy into the first-team fold and kept him bubbling.
While the situation was tough at Anfield, the 18-year-old had all the freedom he needed to express himself – and he didn’t look out of place.
Then at West Brom, his introduction allowed City to relieve the pressure more than once as the game reached its tipping point. On the opposite flank, Redmond was busy setting up Leroy Fer for the goal that sealed City’s biggest top-flight away win since December 1993.
It got pretty dark at City during November – but it is worth remembering that a pretty big proportion of the club’s near future continues to look bright.