Young players developed by the academy have been woven into the fabric of Norwich City's culture in recent seasons. 

Jon Rowe, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Adam Idah and the Murphy twins - the talent produced in the last decade has raised millions of pounds and created countless memories. 

But there is an ever-increasing and just debate about whether opportunities are being provided to the young talent currently knocking on the door to the first team. 

Since Daniel Farke was dismissed in November 2021, Norwich have handed out five senior debuts - Tony Springett, Rowe, Jonathan Tomkinson, Abu Kamara and Jaden Warner - with Wagner awarding only the latter two. 

Under Farke, Norwich handed senior debuts to five players between November and January alone of their second title-winning campaign alone. 

It is an illustration of how the attitude towards youth development has shifted at Norwich in the last few years - when Farke was dispensed with, so too were much of the foundations that had been constructed in that period. 

Which is why Farke has become a much-missed figure. Yes, because of his brand of football and interaction with supporters - but also because he has come to embody so much of what the club got right during that period. 

Stuart Webber deserves credit as well. He made it a major mission when he arrived at the club. He established a bridge between the academy and first-team and hired a coach who was brave and emboldened to play them in testing circumstances. 

Which makes what came post-Farke all the more baffling in many respects. 

As Norwich have become conformists in recent years, there has been less opportunity for their young talent. 

That was highlighted by the decision not to offer a substitute spot to an under-21 player at Anfield last weekend, with Wagner opting to name two goalkeepers on the bench instead. 

Caleb Ansen, who is one of their young academy prospects, took up the space. But Norwich travel with three goalkeepers anyway. They are involved in warm-ups and get a taster of that experience every week. 

Norwich Evening News: Alex Matos (right) left Norwich City at the end of his contract last summer to join Chelsea.Alex Matos (right) left Norwich City at the end of his contract last summer to join Chelsea. (Image: PA Images)

So Norwich could have selected another youngster - perhaps Ken Aboh, maybe Guilherme Montoya or Finlay Welch - and handed them the chance to experience what it is like to be involved in a matchday squad. 

Not as a token gesture but for experience. Whether they make it at Norwich or not, that experience would have been more valuable for them than for Przemyslaw Placheta, who left Norwich a few days later. 

Wagner cited that he didn't want to include a player who had played 90 minutes the day before - but Ansen did just that for their U18s at Aston Villa. Yes, he is a goalkeeper - but Norwich also made a triple substitution at Old Trafford, a stone's throw from Anfield, one of those could have been included. 

If the reality is that they weren't going to get onto the pitch anyway, then the game time they had the day prior makes little difference anyway. 

It is about optics.

Norwich have to be careful. Younger prospects are noticing the lack of opportunity. Other potential recruits will see it in the future and elect to go elsewhere. 

Yes, they've done extraordinarily well in recent years. Maybe the bar has been raised to unsustainable levels, but football moves quickly, and perceptions stick. 

Alex Matos and Aboh have long been touted as the academy's hottest prospects. They stayed at Norwich at various stages of their development amid interest from some of the country's best clubs because they felt there was a pathway for them to senior football. 

Now, Matos walked away at the end of last season after frustrations around pathway and other matters. He joined Chelsea on a free transfer. Aboh, City's top academy goal-scorer, looks set to do similar this summer with concerns. 

To lose both at this stage of their careers, on a free - even if there are some development costs paid to Norwich - is sad more than anything else. 

What's more concerning is the players in and around the pair, who will have seen the talent they possess and also the lack of progression they've been awarded. Aboh had League One loan interest in January, but Norwich weren't going to hand him that in the last months of his contract. 

Norwich Evening News: Ben Knapper has a mission to rebuild the connection with the club's academy.Ben Knapper has a mission to rebuild the connection with the club's academy. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Park those in the under-21s, even in the senior team there are players stalling. Liam Gibbs, who was named Young Player of the Year, has either been played in multiple different positions or not at all. Idah has just left Norwich to pursue more regular first-team football. 

If this is not a club that promotes academy talent and empowers youngsters to take the next step in their career, then what is it? 

Those inside will say they have exceeded the norm, and this is merely a regression back to it. That might partly be true - but the reality is that Norwich's model as a club makes youth development a necessity. 

Not everyone is going to make the first-team - that is accepted. The hit rate is small. That is also accepted. 

But another branch of youth development is about achieving fees and making a profit on young players - that hasn't happened enough in recent times. Players are getting senior debuts at older ages and being sent out on loan at a similar point - take Warner as an example of both accounts. 

That feeds into frustrations over the recruitment policy last summer when Norwich upped the average age of the squad drastically and, prior to January, had a squad that contained 11 players over 30. 

Yes, Rowe has done tremendously well. His chance could have come earlier but for injuries - but he is proof of the value of opportunities. His came in pre-season owing to injuries elsewhere. 

The debate boils down to one question - is this a head coach and a club that has decided to look past the options in their academy, or is it a group of young players who are not good enough? 

Norwich Evening News: Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber's time at Norwich City was built on young talent.Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber's time at Norwich City was built on young talent. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

For a category one academy, if it is the latter, then the system is not functioning as designed. The results, performance and talent inside Colney tell you that is not the case. 

The academy can produce who they like, but if the opportunities aren't being provided, then it's wholly irrelevant.

The bridge that was once so prosperous and a source of pride for Norwich needs to be rebuilt - it will fall on Knapper to reconstruct it as a key pillar of his City master plan.