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Ian Clarke: Young City duo will soon step up to England first team

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 12 September 2019

Max Aarons - man of the match for England Under-21s Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Max Aarons - man of the match for England Under-21s Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

We've had some great defenders at our club over the years.

Ben Godfrey - impressive for Norwich and, now, for England Under-21s Picture: PABen Godfrey - impressive for Norwich and, now, for England Under-21s Picture: PA

When I first started going to Carrow Road, big Dunc and Stringer were at the heart of the backline.

Bruce and Watson were a briliant duo.

Flem and Malky were no-nonsense and inspiring.

As well as the men in the middle, we've had Downs, Haylock, Drury, Bowen and Culverhouse on the flanks.

Jamal Lewis - part of a fantastic trio of young defenders at Carrow Road  Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdJamal Lewis - part of a fantastic trio of young defenders at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

You will all have your favourites (and yes, Mum I know you'll mention the great Ron Ashman. To have played 662 times in an outfield position over 16 years was a stunning achievement).

Right now I think we possess the three most exciting young defenders the club has ever had.

It is stunning to consider that Max Aarons is a teenager for nearly four more months,

Believe it or not it is a year and a week since he made his City first team debut in the East Anglian derby at Portman Road.

Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey are still just 21.

If we had one of the three we would be rightly excited. If we had two it would be amazing.

To have all three in our back four is such a thrill - and a brilliant testament to the ethos under Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke of putting faith in our youth.

Think back to last September when we'd had a very poor start to the season.

City had four points from five games and went into the match at Ipswich on the back of a sobering 3-0 home defeat against Leeds.

Farke put his confidence in Aarons and the former Luton youngster rewarded him - and has continued to do so.

Aarons was a key part of the title winning season and rightly was the EFL's young player of the year and in the Championship team of the year.

There was little surprise that he got the call up to the England under 21s this week.

And again the faith put him was paid back in bucket loads as he was man of the match in Monday's 2-0 Euro qualifying tie against Kosovo.

What a performance he put in. If people didn't know what he was capable of in terms of an attacking option as well as a terrific defender, they do now.

Of course we are all waiting to hear the extent of the ankle injury he picked up during a goal-saving tackle.

He was positive after the game - despite wearing a protective boot - and let's hope we see him back really soon, maybe even for Saturday.

The Kosovo match was also momentous for Godfrey.

In just his second match for the Young Lions, he was given the captain's armband.

What an honour for the young man, who for much of the early part of his career people questioned whether he was a centre back or holding midfielder.

For me he's City's best man in the middle of the backline by some distance - even when everyone is fit.

Godfrey is every part the modern defender - strong, quick, a good reader of the game and a leader.

I think the way England's first team defended against Kosovo on Tuesday means that Godfrey and Aarons are good enough to make the step up already.

Lewis has already made 68 appearances for City, having pretty much been an ever-present since his first start against Birmingham on Boxing Day 2017.

He's played 11 matches for the full Northern Ireland team and there's no reason he can't be one of their all-time greats.

Let's face it, we're unlikely to have these lads forever.

Rumours have been circling for some time about the big boys coming in for them,

Farke will rightly say it's a huge compliment for his lads to be linked with huge money moves.

All of them have signed extended contracts until June 2023.

Of course we hope that means they stay with us for that period.

What it does guarantee is that if someone wants one of them they will have to dig seriously deep.

If Aaron Wan-Bissaka cost Manchester United £50m to prize him away from Crystal Palace, it gives an idea of what our wonderful trio are worth.

They and their teammates were put to the ultimate test at Anfield on the opening day of the campaign.

After that shocking start, they adapted well in the second half.

Surprisingly Newcastle offered very little threat.

Chelsea, for me, was all about giving the ball away too easily and running out of steam.

City had an all round bad day at the office at West Ham.

And now for Pep and his boys....

If ever our young defensive starlets and those around them have a chance to shine, Saturday teatime in front of the TV cameras is it.

The old saying was always win at home and draw away.

Would I take a point this week? Ok, go on then....OTBC.

Any Finnish relatives Madders?
James Maddison must be scratching his head right now.

So far this season Madders has been one of the most exciting, creative and enterprising players in the Premier League.

His performances build on what he did for Leicester in his first campaign there - and of course the genius he showed at Carra.

It's not just me being biased.

He's the name on the lips of supporters of clubs across the land and pundits from a wide range of media outlets.

So why won't Gareth Southgate get him on for England?

There were plenty of eyebrows raised when he didn't start against Bulgaria on Saturday - and even more that he didn't come on as a sub,

The assumption was that he'd get a chance against Kosovo on Tuesday - especially with the team 5-1 up at half-time. But no...

As one Norwich fan tweeted after the game, maybe he should be looking for Finnish relatives. Imagine him and Pukki together!

Can't wait to start collecting stickers

It was more than 40 years ago when I first got the bug for collecting football stickers.

I still remember my Football '78 album which I treasured and spent countless hours as a middle school pupil filling with the faces of everyone from Peter Shilton to John McGovern to Norwich City's very own Tony Powell.

We had excited huddles in the school playground as we grasped our piles of swaps and there were excited shrills when we spotted one we needed.

Four decades on and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in to the first ever Norwich City sticker collection.

We have teamed up with the club to launch the exciting book which includes 230 stickers, including 10 shinies.

There are current players plus many legends and also great moments from the club's history.

Books go on sale this week, costing just £1 and then stickers will be available later in the month.

Time to get cracking - got, got, got, NEED!

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