City report card: Stop-start season causes frustration for Idah
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Some felt last summer that Adam Idah would shine for Norwich City back in the Championship, but setbacks held back his progress on the pitch.
Whenever the Irish international has taken to the field, his potential is clear to see. That's why Daniel Farke elected to keep him in the building and decided against putting him out on loan.
Idah, at 20, is pushing Teemu Pukki hard and learning from an experienced international with ice-cool finishing ability.
City's boss exposed him to minutes after Project Restart with the intention of assessing his performance ahead of another campaign in the Championship. Idah was bright, physically strong and grew into games.
Despite Jordan Hugill's arrival, there was never any real discussion about Idah's future. Farke believed he was capable of providing a different and exciting option in City's squad.
But at the end of May, Idah finishes the season having made only 17 appearances and scored three goals in a year full of frustration for the youngster.
All those pre-season hopes were justified when he netted the crucial goal in their opening day victory against Huddersfield. That victory helped return the winning feeling to Canaries supporters after a dejecting conclusion to their top-flight season.
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A cameo on the left-wing at Rotherham displayed his capability of threatening opponents from another position. It was a bright start for the Irishman that contained plenty of exposure to first-team football.
The red card against Wycombe Wanderers showed there was still a need to improve his maturity. But it was the international break that followed that began a difficult period for Idah.
Then came an international break that saw him called up by Stephen Kenny for the Ireland squad.
Usually, being rewarded with a call-up for your country is an extremely proud and important moment for any player, and that will have been no different for the Cork-born striker, but it turned out to be the beginning of a stop-start season for Idah.
Starting at Wembley as a lone striker provided education, but City reported back to Colney with a knee injury. Upon investigation, City discovered Idah had also broken his foot. An injury that ruled him out until late January.
Within that time, he would contract coronavirus and be forced into self-isolation as City fought hard to contain a small outbreak. Something they did successfully.
That injury stifled his progress and disrupted his momentum. Norwich would need to get him back to match speed after building him up during pre-season.
Idah was confined to appearances largely off the bench but did manage to score his second goal of the campaign against Wycombe to secure a pivotal three points on the road. Pukki's goalscoring form limited his game time.
A hernia injury once again confined him to the treatment table, and limited his chances of impacting City's title push on the pitch.
He did bookend the season when he returned for the final game with a goal against Barnsley, displaying his finishing ability as he buried a shot from close range into the roof of the net. That offered a glimpse of why the club see him as a major player for next season.
Those inside the club believe Idah will explode in the Premier League and catch their opponents off guard.
His raw pace, stature and technical ability makes him a handful. He has proven throughout his time at the club that he has the ability, and with a year of football under his belt, more refined than he was during his raw performances in the top-flight.
In many ways, his profile is what City have identified to help them move forward. Someone capable of combining the technical demands from Farke with a physical core. The striker is almost the blueprint for the next step of the journey.
Given the conveyer belt of talent that has come through the club's academy in recent years, Idah is very much viewed as the next cab off the rank.
Setbacks can often shape a young player and end up being a useful experience. Idah now has a chance, starting in pre-season, to showcase his ability and stake his claim to be City's understudy striker.