What next for City youngster after international praise?
- Credit: PA
Finally, the international break is almost over, for another few weeks anyway... CHRIS LAKEY looks back on the Norwich City developments.
Who came out well?
When Paul McGrath waxes lyrical about a player’s performance, take note. His take on Andrew Omobamidele was concise: “Brilliant display from the kid. The future looks brighter.”
True, he looked calm and composed, and nearly snatched a late goal against Serbia on Tuesday. City fans know what the 19-year-old can do, but the reference to the future will resonate with them at a club level too. The central defender made his debut in January and has started just eight league games for the Canaries. He hasn’t featured in the Premier League this season. So what of his immediate future?
The pecking order
Matter of opinion this, but you’d guess Omobamidele is behind Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson and possibly ahead of Christoph Zimmermann. The arrival of Ozan Kabak means he is probably further down the pecking order than he was a month ago. That’s no bad thing for a player of his limited experience, but what next? The way City’s central defenders in the past have tended to drop like flies with injuries may see Daniel Farke reluctant to let him out of the door, but you’d guess the City boss would like to see Omobamidele nice and active and learning his trade. A loan would seem a good bet all round.
Why not blood him at the top?
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Farke could have thrown Omobamidele in at the deep end, but it was an early-season fixture list from hell. Good Championship performances are one thing. Keeping an eye on some of the world’s top strikers is a very different animal. Imagine if the youngster hadn’t been up to it – it could have been a confidence-destroying introduction to the big time. Sensible move.
Also available in green...
While there was a lot of focus on Omobamidele, his club and country team-mate Adam Idah is an interesting case. Mention Idah, and the name Pukki isn’t far behind in the conversation. Idah is a growing lad, strong as an ox, but perhaps a little too eager to a score his first Irish goal. He hasn’t got the guile of Pukki, and is a very different player – the Finn will walk around the wall, Idah will go straight through it. Maybe he is another who could do with a development loan – Farke has added attacking options in Josh Sargent and Christos Tzolis, but is it enough? He's got until January to see who's up for it.
Watching Grant Hanley and Billy Gilmour play for Scotland it’s easy to worry about having yellow and green tinted glasses. Hanley was the standout player over the break for the Scots, Gilmour clearly a class act, stymied by their tactical approach to the game of football. Choosing two City players as the best of the bunch wasn't difficult or biased. Let’s be honest here, Scotland aren’t up to much, eve though they won in Austria against a very average host team. Steve Clarke hasn’t got much to work with, so two Premier League quality players really should stand out. But it begs an interesting question: what level are some of these international teams? Would Scotland hold their own in the top flight. Or are they a Championship team? I’d got for the latter. The High Road is a long way to travel.
So what about City?
Daniel Farke will finally get a day or two to work with his team, and its new players, before a huge game at Arsenal on Saturday. Preparation time has been hugely disrupted – for both teams of course. It just seems remarkably daft to interrupt a season that is three games old with an international break, which overlapped the closing of the transfer window – and in which three games have been shoehorned. How does three games help anyone, at club or international level? And there’s another break next month as well. The alternative to the break would be to scrap qualifiers – football snobbery at its worst. Maybe a winter break which doubles as an international break? Maybe an international league format which causes less disruption. But most definitely not a World Cup every two years.