Five-goal Jamar Loza’s wait for Norwich City first team chance reflects national problems
PUBLISHED: 09:55 03 December 2015 | UPDATED: 09:55 03 December 2015
JASON DAWSON ©Jason Dawson
After seeing Jamar Loza score five goals for City’s Under-21s what are the striker’s first-team chances?
The average age of players used in the Premier League at the weekend was 26.8
Spurs had the lowest average (24.5) and West Brom the oldest (29.7)
Just six 19-year-olds, four 20-year-olds and 11 21-year-olds played in the top flight games
The challenges faced by young players at the top level of football has been illustrated perfectly at Norwich City this week.
Jamar Loza scored a profile-boosting five goals to help fire City’s under-21s to a comprehensive 7-2 triumph over Southampton on Monday – but is still highly unlikely to feature for the club’s first team at Watford on Saturday.
The 21-year-old knew in the immediate aftermath of his star showing that his next move is to go back out on loan, such is the high stakes nature of the Premier League.
“Hopefully I can get out on loan again for a longer period of time and try and play in the leagues and score some more goals there,” the striker said.
That comes after loan spells with Leyton Orient, Southend United, Coventry City and, most recently, Stevenage – with limited success.
Canaries boss Alex Neil admitted at the club’s recent AGM that promotion back to the top flight had held up the development of some of his young players.
The Scot specifically named the Murphy twins and Harry Toffolo but 21-year-old Loza can easily be put into that bracket as well.
The Jamaica international scored a memorable late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Huddersfield in March, which helped keep City’s Championship promotion challenge on track.
That followed a five-game loan spell in League One with Yeovil, which didn’t yield a goal, but Loza hasn’t yet had another chance for the Canaries’ first team.
If the stunning international form of Kyle Lafferty and excellent goal-scoring record of Gary Hooper are not enough to force their way into contention, what chance does Loza have?
The experienced trio of Lewis Grabban, Cameron Jerome and Dieumerci Mbokani seem to be the trio battling it out for City’s lone striker role, with their ability to retain possession vital to the way Neil wants his team to operate.
What Loza must do is hope his five-goal haul earns him a good loan move, where he can try to match the success of academy team-mate Jacob Murphy, who has been starring for League One promotion hopefuls Coventry.
The winger has scored six goals in his last five matches to attract plenty of praise, while his brother, Josh, is also playing regularly for MK Dons in the Championship, just as full-back Harry Toffolo is at Rotherham.
It may not be a particularly exciting or romantic truth for supporters but the financial implications of relegation from the Premier League are drastically limiting the chances for young players.
Neil was asked at the AGM why clubs such as Southampton and Tottenham are able to field academy players more regularly than the Canaries and his simple answer was that those clubs were more established in the top flight both on and off the pitch, allowing them an element of risk.
There is also no guarantee that goals at under-21 level mean a player can score at first-team level.
Back in 2008 there was a clamour for Luke Daley to feature for City after scoring a hat-trick for the club’s reserve team against Arsenal as a 19-year-old.
Daley made 15 subsequent senior appearances for Norwich, mainly as a substitute, and failed to find the back of the net. He now plays for National League South side Chelmsford City, at the equivalent level to Lowestoft Town.
It’s a tough situation for coaches and players but Loza – who is contracted until next summer, with City retaining the option for a further year – now faces a choice.
Does he follow the route of City’s FA Youth Cup winning captain of 2013, Cameron McGeehan, and make a permanent move to a lower-league side to try and work his way back up the leagues? Or does he hold out for another Canaries chance?
The only thing he can do is keep scoring goals at whichever level he gets his chances, and if his finishing continues to be as clinical as it has been recently, that should be no problem at all.