Alan Irvine hails James Maddison after Championship debut to remember in Norwich City’s 3-1 win at Preston
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alan Irvine is urging James Maddison to kick on after his goalscoring Championship debut in Norwich City's 3-1 win at Preston.
Maddison was introduced as a late substitute at Deepdale and slotted Steven Naismith's pass for his first ever career goal in the second tier on a landmark day for the 20-year-old.
Graham Dorrans and Josh Murphy put City in command prior to the interval before Tommy Spurr reduced the deficit.
Irvine insists Maddison's talent is not in question but the ex-Coventry City starlet must not rest on his laurels.
'I have sat down with him and told him he will get a chance,' said Irvine. 'But I have had a lot of conversations with him, right back since before he went to Aberdeen on loan, both with Alex (Neil) and since I have taken the job. There are two sides to the game. Your talent is not in doubt, your vision, your awareness, your technical ability. All of those things are without question but I have asked him, 'What do you do when we don't have it?' When the game is difficult for us and we are not in control of a game and he knows he has to add that to his game.
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'We could put him on in the midst of a good team performance and full marks to him, he took that chance and showed a lot of composure at the end. I felt we were playing well. Throwing him into a performance when we are not playing well is a real challenge for any young player. I am not saying they won't rise to it but the circumstances were right for him.'
Irvine admitted Norwich had to quell a Preston fightback to record a first away win since February 4.
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'I thought the boys were excellent. They were absolutely outstanding in the first half,' he said. 'Preston's record here since the turn of the year has been played eight, won six and drawn two. We have a very poor away record. I challenged the boys before the game that people have questioned them, in terms of the mental toughness and resilience in coming to a place like this. If there was a better place to come and answer those questions right now this was it. The performance was excellent. First half, we should have been more goals ahead. We didn't put the game to bed after the break, even though we created more chances, and unfortunately we left it until late on.
'For five or 10 minutes after they scored we had to dig in and we were looking a bit vulnerable and then because of their change of system it became a battle of systems. We had to get our full-backs out and once we did that it swung the game back in our favour. I felt overall for the remainder of the game we were comfortable, albeit (Jordan) Hugill had a very good chance at 2-1.'
Irvine confirmed after the win Timm Klose did not suffer a season-ending knee injury on Good Friday against Fulham, with the defender expected to be out for 10 days. Alex Tettey (back) was another injury absentee at Deepdale, while Wes Hoolahan was rested.
'You are never quite sure how the recovery process goes because each player is different in that respect but it certainly is not something they feel would be a season-ending injury,' said Irvine. 'It is just behind his right knee. Alex (Tettey) has been struggling the last couple of games with a back injury. We even checked him out on the morning of the game to see how he was. He travelled but he has been getting through games and training less and less as the weeks have gone on. This was a game too many in a short period. I said to Wes before the two home games he would not be involved for this one. He needed to rest and he knows his body and he was grateful for that.'