Norwich City Report Card: How high can Jamal Lewis soar with Canaries?
PUBLISHED: 09:15 19 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 19 May 2018
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Jamal Lewis had a breakthrough season to savour. Paddy Davitt assesses where the 20-year-old goes from here, in the latest of our summer report card series.
Listen to me, Jamal. You will score a header at Chelsea in an FA Cup tie in front of millions watching on television.
Make your international debut for Northern Ireland. And become Norwich City’s first choice left-sided defender.
Even the super confident, super cool Lewis may have thought that was setting the bar too high when he found himself fast-tracked into Daniel Farke’s pre-season plans.
After a cruel knee injury curtailed his progress for five months, the Luton-bred prospect burst onto the first team scene in stunning fashion.
The energy and the exuberance should be a given, with a 20-year-old afforded his big break.
Yet there was also a composure and confidence in those first, sure-footed steps that marked Lewis out as a bit special.
Inevitably, blips in performance and inconsistency would surface down the stretch. Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday away from the secure confines of Carrow Road were sobering afternoons when his naivety perhaps was exposed.
Farke and the self-aware Lewis himself both spoke about adding a genuine attacking dimension to his play and a productive edge in the final third.
But be in no doubt, Norwich have a gem on their hands and the polish is now in the process of being applied.
Given the speed careers hurtle in this precarious profession, it would hardly come as a surprise if Lewis features in the summer transfer columns.
With armies of scouts and the technology employed by battalions of support staff, the former English Schools’ athlete must now feature prominently on the radar of bigger clubs with deeper resources.
Farke’s Norwich is a perfect place to develop. Lewis was given a chance and took it with aplomb but he needs a fertile environment to flourish and continue to learn his trade - not plucked by a Premier League rival and sent away on loan to ripen.
Given the searing focus on the academy infrastructure and the necessity of a plentiful pipeline of talent, Lewis is the poster boy for the current way forward under Farke and Stuart Webber.
The impressive youngster is a prototype for what could be possible at Carrow Road in the seasons to come, if those shaping this direction of travel get it right.
On his best days, like that accomplished full debut in the Boxing Day 2-0 Championship win at Birmingham, or the manner he harried and chased Italian international Davide Zappacosta in the first FA Cup tie against Chelsea, the sky looks the limit.
At Hull or Hillsborough there was a rashness to his decision-making and a rawness that was exposed.
That is why it would be premature to judge.
If a collection of overseas signings enticed by Farke and Webber will be better for a period of acclimatisation next time around, then the same applies equally to a footballer who this time last season barely registered for the vast majority of City fans.
Farke arrived with a reputation for cultivating young prospects.
He needs a deft touch not to over-expose Lewis. There will be periods next season when he will flag with the heavy workload.
The ability to pre-empt those dips can ensure his confidence does not drain and his rate of development persists at an accelerated state.
It would not be beyond the realms to be talking about him this time next summer in the same reverential tones that now accompany James Maddison’s next career move.
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