From Canaries reject to talk of England recognition
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Could another former Norwich City player be joining James Maddison in the England senior squad this season? Wolverhampton Wanderers fans certainly think there should be.
Ryan Bennett has played an integral part in a flying start to the Premier League campaign for Wolves, playing every minute as last year’s Championship title winners have conceded just six goals in eight games.
That left Wanderers fans rather irked to see England boss Gareth Southgate call up Brighton centre-back Lewis Dunk as a replacement for injured Burnley defender James Tarkowski last week.
Bennett or Connor Coady should have been next off the rank, according to plenty of Wolves fans, with their team sat seventh in the top flight.
That is quite the reemergence for 28-year-old Bennett, from not being offered a Canaries contract at the end of the 2016-17 season, to being mentioned in England conversations recently.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s defenders have been widely praised in the national media in recent weeks, with the Portuguese manager setting a Premier League record after naming the same starting XI for the opening eight games of the campaign.
Bennett worked his way into the big-spenders’ starting line-up having initially played a bit-part role at the start of last season, eventually playing a key role in their title success.
The ex-Peterborough and Grimsby defender had signed on a free transfer alongside former Norwich team-mate John Ruddy and Wanderers fans were quick to remind City supporters that both were free transfers during social media fishing exercises throughout last season.
While Ruddy has had to accept playing second fiddle to Portugal international Rui Patricio this year, Bennett has the right side of a back three sewn up, alongside skipper Coady and French defender Willy Boly.
It’s 25-year-old Liverpool academy product Coady getting much of the attention but former Manchester City and England defender Joleon Lescott has been full of praise for Bennett as well.
“Ryan Bennett is a phenomenal success story, having come through the lower divisions,” Lescott said, speaking on behalf of betting firm Bwin. “It’s a credit to Grimsby Town for recognising that talent after he was let go by Ipswich and it’s an example of what is possible for those playing in League One and League Two that there is a pathway to the Premier League. Bennett has been performing well wherever he has been and he was always a Premier League player, even when he was in the Championship at Wolves.
“Hopefully, he will continue to be a rock for the club this season up against some of the best strikers in the world.”
Bennett moved to Norfolk as a teenager, living near Hemsby and attending Flegg High School. It wasn’t until January 2012 that he became a Norwich player, signed for around £3m by Paul Lambert having impressed in the Championship with Peterborough.
He went on to make 118 appearances for the Canaries, experiencing top-flight relegation in 2014 and 2016, with injury disrupting him at times.
Despite being allowed to move on as part of sweeping changes to the City squad in the summer of 2017, Bennett was in the away end at Derby recently, as he, Ruddy and Maddison watched Daniel Farke’s team earn a creditable 1-1 draw at Pride Park.
Bennett and Coady were both capped at youth levels by England – and could well earn senior recognition if they can maintain their fine club form.
Coady, speaking to local newspaper the Express and Star recently, said: “We pride ourselves on our clean sheets and the more we get, the better it will be.
“We do it over and over again (in training), the same thing. But that’s how we want it because we want to get better and improve every day.”
He may not have fulfilled his true potential at Norwich but plenty of Canaries fans will be pleased to see Bennett bouncing back.