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Paddy Davitt verdict: A word to the wise after Luton salvo

Josip Drmic laid down a marker with a hat-trick at Luton Town Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Josip Drmic laid down a marker with a hat-trick at Luton Town Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Given Ben Marshall impressed the last time Norwich City pitched up at Luton Town it is probably best to place the Canaries' slick friendly win in proper pre-season context.

Marco Stiepermann opened the scoring for Norwich at Luton 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesMarco Stiepermann opened the scoring for Norwich at Luton Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Marshall's exit, with three years left to run on his original Canaries' contract, was announced two hours before Norwich moved through the gears at Kenilworth Road.

This time last summer the 28-year-old looked a very useful acquisition but early struggles in the Championship operating at right back set the tone for a transfer that rapidly went south.

On the evidence of City's latest offering against the Hatters they have pulled off a masterstroke in the signings of Josip Drmic and Patrick Roberts.

Drmic plundered a hat-trick and Roberts was the instigator-in-chief.

A majestic strike from long range that brought Norwich's fifth goal was ample reward for a cameo where he showcased his full passing repertoire and expertise from set pieces.

Roberts is also a fast learner. Daniel Farke was quick to highlight his lack of defensive awareness to halt a Schalke 04 breakaway that led to a goal for the Bundesliga club in the final game of the recent German tour.

Even with City in cruise control at Kenilworth Road his willingness to track back and the urgency with which he hunted turnovers underlined in this Norwich collective, under this head coach, you have to impress in and out of possession.

Patrick Roberts capped a fine display with a long range goal 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdPatrick Roberts capped a fine display with a long range goal Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The prospect of Roberts paired in tandem with Emi Buendia to supply the ammunition for Teemu Pukki, or Drmic for that matter, should have many City fans salivating.

Pukki cannot be expected to shoulder the full burden of City's attacking endeavours in the Premier League.

Last season may have been a one-off in the Finn's career; a period in time when the planets aligned and the rewards for his quality and his work ethic were plentiful. He must expect more meagre rations given the nature of Norwich's top flight mission.

But Drmic's three goals against the Championship new boys highlighted here is another international class player on a free transfer who could represent fantastic value. The anticipation and the awareness, to be in the right place at the right time in the opposition penalty area, were facets of Drmic's game we had yet to fully appreciate in a Norwich shirt.

Given the injuries that have curtailed his early career progress, Farke was right to caution afterwards the 'brilliance' of his display against Luton was possible because he is fit and healthy. Keeping him in that state will be a test for Norwich's sports science brains.

Pukki remains the main man at the outset of this Premier League odyssey but in Drmic there is an able and cunning operator who could not only alleviate some of the burden but even offer a different dimension.

There was a noticeable injection of urgency right from the kick off; a response no doubt driven in part by Farke to the sluggish, lethargic offering a few days earlier against Brentford in the sweltering heat of Colney.

Daniel Farke salutes the travelling fans at Kenilworth Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdDaniel Farke salutes the travelling fans at Kenilworth Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City were 2-0 up after six minutes and 3-0 up after 14. The game as a viable contest was effectively over.

Marco Stiepermann, another who may surprise a few Premier League defenders in due course, anticipated Kenny McLean's near post run to slot Roberts' corner from an acute angle.

Max Aarons then burst down the right before Drmic offered a willing outlet to roll his cross home from close range. The frontman's second owed everything to Roberts' vision and poise to pick out Todd Cantwell and Drmic's sense of timing to sniff a half-chance, when Cantwell's shot rebounded into his path.

The Swiss international's hat-trick clincher was a high tariff effort, arcing his body backwards in mid-air to re-direct Roberts' latest corner with a looping header over the stranded Simon Sluga.

It was a goal worthy of Anfield on August 9 rather than the more homely surroundings of Luton Town in front of a few thousand. Drmic is certainly a showman, given Sunday's social media premiere of a song track voiced by the multi-talented attacker.

The same was true of Roberts' thunderbolt, after the briefest of consolations from Dan Potts prior to the interval. A swivel, a jink and then the balletic grace and timing to unleash a rising left-footed finish beyond Sluga.

But just as Farke was at pains to point out that 3-1 defeat to the Bees was immaterial in the overall picture, the same should apply to the dismissive manner they swatted Luton aside. It felt like a significant step forward.

Certainly in the integration of the new faces. But we have been before. Onwards to Carrow Road and Atalanta.

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