City’s Under-21s have had a promising season so far and currently lie in 3rd place – contesting the automatic promotion spot. Ten points from their last four games have propelled them from play-off contenders to candidates for automatic promotion.
But this position is all too familiar to the Canaries, as they spent the majority of last season in the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-off places before ultimately falling short in the semi-final.
During the first half of the season, the attacking personnel was the same on most matchdays. That consisted of Abu Kamara, Tyrese Omotoye and Tom Dickson-Peters. This trio has now been split up as Omotoye has left the club permanently to join Forest Green Rovers, while Dickson-Peters has departed to join Grimsby on loan.
Both Omotoye and Dickson-Peters were pivotal to the attacking makeup of the U21s, due to them both offering important attributes to the team – Omotoye his speed and power, while Dickson-Peters offered composure and sharpness in front of goal.
The decision for Omotoye to leave Norwich was an interesting one. He always showed glimpses of the powerful striker that he could become, but ultimately the club wasn’t convinced that he could contribute to Norwich in the longer term.
Tyrese Omotoye made his Norwich debut in the 2020/21 season.
Dickson-Peters has started his loan move to Grimsby in a positive manner, scoring his first professional goal away at Crewe. This loan move is a massive opportunity for TDP, as he’s proven himself at academy level and needs to make that next step. He needs to have a good remainder of the season, so he’s not back playing 21s football next season.
Another player integral to the U21s this season is Abu Kamara. His numbers have been instrumental to the team’s league standing – he’s won games on his own at his times.
So with the departures of Dickson-Peters and Omotoye, who will be leading the line for the remainder of the U21s season?
One player who has moved up from the U18s and is now a member of the U21s squad is Ken Aboh, who has had a very strong season and scored eleven goals so far. The club has always had high hopes for Aboh, hence why they see this as the right time to move him up to 21s football.
Aboh’s pace and power make him an extremely difficult attacker to contain. Add to that, his low centre of gravity and dribbling capabilities, and with his speed he’s effective at running the channels, always making it hard for defenders to track his runs.
Another admirable element of Aboh’s game is his willingness to score goals. While that may sound self-explanatory, his proactiveness in front of goal shines through when he plays.
In addition, he is a tireless worker off the ball, which enhances his pedigree as a striker – knowing that he can do both sides of the game well.
The general impression that you get from Aboh, is that he has a burning desire to develop and demonstrate his consistency at U21s level. Scoring two goals on his first U21s start was a great starting point, and he could be an important component in their promotion hunt this season.
Another player hoping to stamp his authority on the U21s team is Kenny Coker. It’s been an unfortunate season for him so far as he hasn’t played many games, and when he has they’ve been bench cameos.
People close to Kenny may hold the viewpoint that he deserves an opportunity to start more matches, especially as U18s striker Aboh has immediately come into the team, despite Kenny being with the 21s all season. That situation is one to keep a close eye on, especially if his game time continues to be limited.
Similarly to Aboh, there are traits to Coker’s game that are admirable. His ability to find space has always been impressive, as well as his ability to run in behind. Converting those chances into goals has been his Achilles heel.
Development football, by its very nature, is in a constant period of transition, and this is the case now with the Norwich striking personnel, Omotoye and TDP have departed; Coker and Aboh will now be the recognised strikers.
Another possible scenario is that Kamara moves into a central striker role, which would be understandable considering his goal-scoring record this season.
Despite transition being common in academy football, only two of the City starting XI against Derby on Monday are in their first season at Premier League 2 level. Those two are David Aziaya and Ben Watt.
This suggests the club is very careful and patient in making decisions about players making their next step. Some argue that Dickson-Peters and Omotoye went out on loan to their first loan club too quickly, hence their inconsistent performances. These two case studies may have made Norwich reconsider.
Another player who’s been moved up to the 21s, is inventive midfielder, Finley Welch. He is the second-top U18s goalscorer this season with five goals and has progressed expediently this season while being the leading figure in the U18s team.
Whether Fin will have a successful career at Norwich, could become clear in the next 18 months when he’ll have to adapt his unique playing style against stronger defenders.
City have a great variety of characters in that U21s dressing room, with some having played at this level for a considerable time, while other are still finding their feet at this level.
With Kamara sniffing at the first team door, TDP out on loan for the season, and Omotoye departing permanently, the attacking personnel mentioned above have to fire to continue this promotion charge.