Jonny Howson is the missing link at Norwich City

Jonny Howson has been sorely missed by Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson has been sorely missed by Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson will again be sorely missed in Norwich City's midfield against Derby County.

Much of the focus during the recent downturn has been on the Canaries' chronic inability to defend, but Howson's injury absence has compounded City's woes on the road.

'Jonny Howson being injured is a big, big blow for us,' said Alex Neil. 'I don't think anyone looking at my team since I have been here would argue away from home I like to narrow my midfield off and dominate the ball. The problem I have got is I am trying to do that now with wide players. We watched Derby, the last time we played them, with the lads the other day, to show them how we performed and that midfield was pretty much four central players, Howson, Bradley Johnson, Graham Dorrans and Alex Tettey.

'The fact is at present my two wide players are Robbie Brady and Jacob Murphy so in that respect we miss Jon when we want to go narrow and dominate the ball in that area. We have had Youssouf (Mulumbu) out, along with Jonny, and it becomes difficult to get that balance. Our best attributes as a team in my opinion is keeping the ball, moving it and keeping it in triangles. That is why we have a technician as a number 10.'

Howson is inching towards a first team recall but fellow midfielder Matt Jarvis could step up his comeback next week.

'Jonny is making good progress and I am hoping him and Ivo (Pinto) are not too far away. It is difficult to give a timeline,' said Neil. 'Matt Jarvis is making really good progress and he will possibly play in an under-23s game next week. We have to be conscious how long he has been out. It is baby steps.

'Looking at his pedigree and what he has done in his career we would like to think he would be really effective at Championship level. He can do damage and at other clubs he got them promoted. He would be like a new player if we could get him fit and firing.'