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One excelled, the other was a revelation – Loan chief gives the lowdown on two maturing City stars

Norwich City young professionals Todd Cantwell (left) and Remi Matthews enjoyed supremely productive loan spells away from the Canaries last season.

Norwich City young professionals Todd Cantwell (left) and Remi Matthews enjoyed supremely productive loan spells away from the Canaries last season.

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Norwich City’s decision to send Ben Godfrey and Carlton Morris on loan to League One Shrewsbury Town for last season has been much heralded – but two other loans were arguably as successful.

Playmaker Todd Cantwell, 20, helped earn Fortuna Sittard promotion to the Eredivisie during four months on loan in the Dutch second tier.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old goalkeeper Remi Matthews was at league One Plymouth from October – and took Argyle on an incredible journey of their own.

City loans manager Neil Adams gives his view on two deals that could yet prove hugely beneficial to Daniel Farke’s first-team squad next season.

On Remi Matthews…

“It all started with Plymouth manager Derek Adams calling Stuart Webber in need of emergency loan help. It was horrendous. All Argyle’s goalkeepers were injured and Stuart asked if we should we get him down there? And that was it.

“I think they were bottom of the table. Then they started to win. In the end they missed out on the play-offs by three points, after winning only one of their final three games. They should’ve done it.

“Now if Remi had been a full-back or forward, you could say he played his part in that run. But as a goalkeeper, that’s massively down to you – to keep so many clean sheets. Yes there’s a defence in front of you, but you’ve got to keep the ball out of the net.

“From them shipping goals, to winning so many games – he did fantastically well. An absolute revelation.

“He’s had a few loans before but I think this one, and he might say it himself, he now knows he is a proper keeper. He’s confident, comes for the ball – and that all comes with knowing this is my box, that’s my goal and I’m the main guy.

“He has that presence alongside being a technically good goalkeeper – rather than having that doubt in the back of their mind, which for me keepers will have until they are established and mature.

“He was fantastic there and it galvanised the club. It was massive for him and he now comes back having sent Plymouth flying up the division, gutted they missed out on the play-offs.

“And now Angus Gunn has left here, it’s over to Stuart and Daniel and what they want to do from here.”

On Todd Cantwell…

“Todd is a great one! (Neil is currently beaming) I’ve known him since he was 10-years-old and he’s a great kid.

“He was seeing all his team-mates getting loan moves and was saying to me, get me a loan move. He was even wondering why he wasn’t getting a chance and whether he wasn’t good enough. But it was all about putting him at the right club.

“Not so long ago, Todd was nowhere near the build he is now. He was skinny, a little lightweight. He had all the skills and tricks – but would I then want to put him in a team, say in League Two, where he’s going to get smashed? It might ruin him.

“That wouldn’t suit his game. He needed a technical team that would get the ball on the floor and play, allowing him to develop while he matures and his body gets bigger.

“Then Sittard came up and we now all know the Dutch second division really well because we’ve all been over there several times.

“It’s the Dutch way, not as physical as League Two but don’t get me wrong – there are still tackles going in.

“It was perfect for him to go and get senior football, while being protected a little bit physically. He still got injured, got kicked from pillar to post, but all in the right way. And he’s excelled over there.

“I shared a joke with him when he came back, that he can now see why he needs to trust me and why we had to wait – because he was giving me dog’s abuse!

“So that was perfect for him. They’ve been promoted to the top division, they’ve sold out their season tickets, they’ll play Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord next season in fantastic stadiums with fantastic crowds – and he’s been a massive part of that.

“They love him there, the fans want him back and his stock is now so high and he did himself so much credit. He’s a bigger, stronger lad with the way he matured over there too.

“He was taken out of his comfort zone. He wasn’t on his own because of the monitoring we did – but he had to make his own breakfast, make new friends and ask people where the nearest cinema was. So he’s developing off the field, as well as on it.

“If we could put in front of you a Todd Cantwell from before he went to Sittard, and the one now, you’d think it’s a different person – physically, maturity, experience, confidence.

“What will happen to him this year? He’ll either play in our squad or he’ll go on loan, maybe even back to Sittard! But that’s up to Daniel and Stuart. If he’s good enough for us, then that is another one where that is exactly why he went out on loan.”

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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