City fans will get a good chance to see just what Korey Smith is made of tomorrow night as the club kicks-off its FA Youth Cup campaign at home to Wigan Athletic.
Coming little more than a fortnight after that thrilling 4-2 dismissal of Arsenal's much-vaunted kids, this week's FA Youth Cup opener will provide another welcome distraction from events of a first team nature after Saturday's 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday left everyone peering anxiously down as Sunday's big date with the neighbours looms.
Two names figured large on the back of that comprehensive Gunners success – hat-trick hero Luke Daley and midfield athlete Tom Adeyemi.
In the days that followed, however, City boss Glenn Roeder added a third to the pot – that of Korey Smith.
Sidelined for the Gunners game, Smith will be centre stage tomorrow night as both Kris Renton and Daley sit out the contest. Both are too old to compete in the competition.
For Smith, however, this is his stage, his year and his chance. Be it a centre-midfield or right-back where his tenacious athleticism could serve him well going forward.
“Last year we went out early,” he told the club's official website today. “And this is my last season in the FA Youth Cup, so I just want to do really well and, hopefully, if I keep doing well, I'll be able to play in the FA Cup one day.”
Given that Roeder has already suggested that neither Smith nor his Youth Cup team-mate Adeyemi will be ready for the rigours of Championship life until April at the earliest, next month's third round trip to Charlton Athletic would appear to be coming just too soon for the Academy youngster.
That he has a chance of making a name for himself at Carrow Road was something that Roeder would, however, concede. He could just sneak a living from the game; be one of the tiny handful that actually do progress from the ranks of youth team football to a fully-fledged Canary professional.
He appears to be made of 'the right stuff'; Roeder saw welcome mental strength in the young man's make-up.
In fairness, Smith already has a first pro contract to his name; it is his first pro appearance in the first team that now awaits.
“He might just be one that pops out of the woodwork and is a pleasant surprise – because he's a tough kid and got an amount of ability,” said Roeder recently, as the names of Adeyemi and Smith were mentioned in despatches – less so the free-scoring Daley.
“And he [Smith] does quite well when he trains with the first team – as he does on a regular basis,” added the Canary chief.
The lad himself has been happy enough with his first team efforts as he tries to prove that there is more than one string to his teenage bow.
“I've travelled with the first team a few times and I've been doing well,” said Smith, down as No18 on the bus for Hillsborough this weekend as he revealed his new role as a Jon Otsemobor understudy.
Given that Elliot Omosuzi might be ear-marked for centre-half duty alongside Gary Doherty once John Kennedy returns north of the border in the New Year, the youngster could yet get his chance before April.
“I've been playing right-back whereas at the start of the season I was playing centre-midfield,” said the versatile, Hertfordshire-born teenager – currently to be found skippering the Academy Under-18s.
“So I'm trying to adapt – and I'm getting some positive feedback,” he added. “I'm enjoying spending my time with the first team, but I know I have to keep working hard and hope I get a chance to play for them.”
In the current climate, another runaway success for the Youth boys – particularly if capped by the kind of individual displays that daley and Adeyemi delivered in the Gunners game – could yet prove something of a double-edged sword for Roeder.
On the one hand a command performance by either a Smith or an Adeyemi will give everyone a straw to cling to going forward – that there are these two, bright young things emerging from the Academy. Not to mention a certain J Steer in goal.
On the other, however, it will merely pile on the pressure on the manager to give the kids a go – certainly for as long as his senior pros continue to under-perform and fail to deliver the results Norwich desperately need.
Roeder sticks his heels in and – possibly, quite rightly – insists that the kids won't be ready to cme 'on stream' until April at the earliest and the punters patience will wear thin.
They like to see home-grown kids do well; they believe their veins flow with yellow and green blood – something that, perhaps, doesn't always apply in their eyes to the loan 'stars'.