City supporters could yet see two of their Norfolk heroes don the Three Lions of England next week as Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce named both Declan Rudd and defender Ryan Bennett in his squad for the crucial Euro 2013 play-off double header against Serbia at Carrow Road.
Rudd, in particular, faces stiff competition for a starting berth, however, after Birmingham’s Jack Butland – John Ruddy’s summer replacement for Euro2012 – was recalled to the Under-21 party from the senior England squad.
Canary fans will also get another glimpse of Liverpool’s star teenage turn – Raheem Sterling – who gave Javier Garrido such a difficult afternoon last weekend.
It marks a natural progression for the flying youngster after figuring in a succession of England Youth set-ups en route to his starting place in Brendan Rodgers’ new-look Reds side. His progression has not gone unnoticed either by England boss Roy Hodgson who had him in his full, senior squad for the World Cup clash with Ukraine last month.
“He’s been in our development squads and has done extremely well for Liverpool, and credit to Brendan [Rodgers] who has given him his chance,” said Pearce today, announcing the squad ahead of another big night of Under-21 football in Norfolk next week.
The England Under-21 chief has also handed two other young, Premier League tyros their first cap at this level – Andros Townsend from Spurs and Nick Powell at Manchester United.
Both will be expected to feature alongside the likes of ex-City loan star Henri Lansbury whose last appearance at Carrow Road was a scoring part in Adam Drury’s Testimonial Match against Celtic at the start of the summer.
JonJo Shelvey, now of Liverpool, will be a familiar face – if only for those that ‘enjoyed’ one of those horror trips to The Valley in which the then 16-year-old single-handedly took Norwich to pieces.
Quite what Norfolk welcome Sunderland’s Connor Wickham will receive is another matter; the hope might be that traditional tribal loyalties would be put aside when it came to the former Ipswich starlet when he has the Three Lions on his chest.
“Andros Townsend has done well and has been around Tottenham’s first-team squad consistently this year,” added Pearce.
“Nick Powell got his move from Crewe, to a massive club at United, and has made his first-team bow. He has a really bright future.”
For Bennett – currently stuck in the queue at centre-half behind Leon Barnett, Michael Turner and the injured Sabastien Bassong – the Under-21 game could offer the perfect showcase for him to remind the watching Chris Hughton of his talents.
Handed a start in the opening horror show at Fulham, the former Posh favourite has had to bide his time for another Premier League start this season.
Given the manner in which Bassong settled into the heart of that Canary defence before picking up the tight hamstring in the opening minutes of the trip to Newcastle the other weekend, Hughton must be sorely hoping to slam the Cameroonian back into his plans ASAP – and re-unite him first and foremost with Barnett.
The last time the Under-21s visited Norfolk in 2010 it attracted a crowd of 25,749. Pearce is dearly hoping for similar numbers a week on Friday.
“We had fantastic support from the people of Norwich last time we played here, and we really need more of the same this time,” he said.
“It would be great to think we could get near the record crowd we saw here last time. If we are to be successful as a young team, we need that level of support again. The players really thrive on a great atmosphere and it’s an excellent experience for them.”
Goalkeepers: Ben Amos (Hull City – loan from Manchester United), Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Declan Rudd (Norwich City), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough).
Defenders: Ryan Bennett (Norwich City), Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion), Tom Lees (Leeds United), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Sunderland – loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Adam Smith (Tottenham Hotspur), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool).
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough – loan from Chelsea), Nick Powell (Manchester United), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Forwards: Nathan Delfouneso (Blackpool – loan from Aston Villa), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Connor Wickham (Sunderland).