Alex Neil - Louis Thompson can be a Premier League hit at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil is challenging Louis Thompson to continue his meteoric rise at Norwich City.
The 20-year-old has featured in both pre-season friendlies since re-joining the club he joined in January, before being loaned back to Swindon.
Thompson made a total of 62 league appearances for the Robins in League One, but is now competing with international duo Alex Tettey and Youssouf Mulumbu to figure in Neil's Premier League plans.
'We have a young lad who is hungry and did very well last season and he was on the crest of a wave with how well Swindon was doing,' said Neil. 'He was a big part of that. He is a good, combative player and along with Alex Tettey and Youssouf Mulumbu he gives us a good option in there.
'It's difficult to tell if he can go straight into the Premier League. We are early in pre-season and no disrespect to the teams we are playing but he is not going to be judged against them, so that is going to be hard to say, but there is no question he has quality, he is a good player and it is going to be a steep learning curve for him as much as most of the other players.
'Some will sink, some will swim.'
Neil faces a careful balancing act with his younger talent after sanctioning loan moves for Remi Matthews and Carlton Morris.
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Teenage striker Morris yesterday formally completed his short-term move to Hamilton until January 1 after extending his Carrow Road contract to 2017.
'Carlton has been out a couple of times in England and it has not really worked for him. He hasn't had a lot of game-time and the stage he is at he needs first team football,' said Neil. 'I think Hamilton is a great platform for him to go and play in the top flight in Scotland and go to some good stadiums and experience playing for a living. There is a huge difference between the seniors and the academy.'
Jacob Murphy proved the value of a successful loan stint at Colchester last season, and Us' boss Tony Humes has made it clear he wants a reunion.
'I'm sure they would like him back because he helped keep them up, but the experience that he picked up over there you can see how much it has helped develop his game,' said Neil. 'He is much more aware about his game and he is coming on really well. Based on how he did with them I would like to kick him on as much as we can but if he was to go anywhere I want him playing games. It is no use going and sitting on someone's bench because he could do that here. He needs to go and get minutes.'
Murphy played the second half at Hitchin in front of another of the club's FA Youth Cup winning squad Harry Toffolo, after player-of-the-year Bradley Johnson had been deployed in an unaccustomed left-back role prior to the interval.
Neil admits recruiting a recognised full-back is a priority with Martin Olsson on the comeback trail after shoulder surgery.
'We'll be looking to address that area of the squad. That has been well-publicised,' he said. 'Bradley played there (at Hitchin) because he was a natural left-sided player and it was about getting minutes under his belt as much as anything else. I certainly don't see him as a left-back, he isn't going to get 15 goals from that part of the pitch.'