With the England Under-21 starlets in town last week, it got me thinking about one of City’s bright prospects and what a smashing little player he is.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that Norwich midfield man Korey Smith can count himself unlucky not to be in and around Stuart Pearce’s 21s squad and his consistent performances since Paul Lambert took charge last August continue to stand out.
He started the season on the bench after being one of the first names on the team sheet last year but an excellent showing against Gillingham in the Carling Cup meant it was impossible to leave him out for the trip to Scunthorpe.
The Hatfield-born player has since been an ever-present and on the right side of the Canaries midfield diamond, Smith has made the position his own.
He has no obvious weakness – Smith is combative, has pace and can pass the ball – and the 19-year-old’s performances and attitude have certainly impressed boss Lambert, who threw Smith straight into the deep end for his first game in charge last summer.
“I know what I get from him every week, he gives me everything. He has a freshness and hungry,” said the Scot, speaking after Smith was dropped to the bench for the season opener against Watford.
“It’s another big jump and another bit of his development where sometimes you take knocks. But it’s how you come back from it which is important and he’s been fine.
“His attitude in training has been great and I don’t have a problem with Korey, his level of consistency each week is brilliant and if he keeps learning he has a big future ahead of him, that is for sure.”
Lambert clearly sees the Academy product as someone he can rely on and the Canary chief tied Smith down to a new contract just over a month after arriving at the club last August.
As a result, the Hertfordshire lad is now on the books until 2013 at the very earliest, having already made 49 first-team appearances for the Norfolk club.
But having spoken to Smith many a time up at Colney, you can tell that he’s a level-headed guy and the former youth team captain won’t be getting carried away any time soon.
“I’m so grateful to Paul Lambert for throwing me in and giving me a new contract – I just want to keep proving myself and paying him back,” he told the press upon signing that new deal a year ago.
“This is what people dream about and I have to pinch myself that I’m in the side at my age; when everyone is congratulating me in the dressing room after a game I’m blown away. I just want to keep doing well for the fans and keep learning.”
To be honest, as I mentioned earlier, I’m surprised Smith hasn’t earned some sort of England recognition with his performances this year in the Championship.
And if he was an Arsenal or Chelsea player, performing as he is with Norwich on loan, I can’t help but feel that he’d be in with more of a chance.
Despite the fact that many aren’t playing regular first-team football, the Under-21 squad is littered with Premier League names and not one of the outfield players in the original group for Friday’s European Championship play-off with Romania is contracted to a Football League club.
Every single one is a Premier League starlet and when you look at the cold, hard facts, it’s no surprise that it’s getting more and more difficult to break into the national team setup if you’re plying your trade outside of the land of milk and honey.
But Smith has plenty of time on his side and if he keeps doing what he’s doing, the young midfielder has a long and successful career to look forward to, with many, many years hopefully at Carrow Road.
The best home grown player for years…since Eadie and Bellamy ?
Andy Watson says
I am also amazed that he is not in the squad. He is a very mature player for his age and as Lambert says he has a big future in the game. It can only be a matter of time before a bigger club realises his potential and snaps him up.
Chris Riches says
Very true. Any idea how many of the squad are playing regular first team football, and at what level? Seems that it’s who owns you that counts, rather than the level you’re playing.