Jonny Howson learns from time on the Norwich City sidelines

Jonny Howson takes a shot at goal during the 1-1 draw at Sunderland in City's last outing.

Jonny Howson takes a shot at goal during the 1-1 draw at Sunderland in City's last outing. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson was marked out as a rising star during his meteoric ascent into the Leeds' first team as a teenager.

The current Norwich City chapter of his professional career is offering something of a sobering reality check.

Howson made his senior debut with the Yorkshire giants a few months past his 18th birthday. The boyhood White then went on to become Leeds' youngest captain since the legendary Billy Bremner before the Canaries made their move in January 2012 to recruit one of the most coveted talents operating outside the Premier League.

The knee problem that delayed his City bow proved a test of Howson's physical powers, but the form of Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey this season is now challenging his mental resolve.

The Norwegian international's recent injury absence to rest a knee complaint paved the way for a timely return to the first team fold for the 24-year-old. Howson, however, prefers to adopt a philosophical outlook to the ebb and flow of his footballing life.

'Whatever I did before is in the past, it's happened. Maybe it does take a little bit of getting used to because it's something you don't want to get used to,' he said. 'But it is difficult when you have players used to playing regularly. It's a challenge and something I don't want to shy away from.

'When I came here it was a case of coming to the Premier League for the competition and a better level of football and I've got that. Now I have a run of games I hope I can do well enough to keep my place in the side.

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'You can never switch off as a player and I think a lot of football is judged on your mentality. Confidence comes into it as well, so you can look at it two ways. If every day you give it everything you've got and you do your best then you know you can have no complaints.'

Howson insists a watching brief for large parts of Chris Hughton's first season in charge is simply another part of his learning curve.

'I think when I came in last season, I was still finding it a tough test,' he said. 'For me personally, I would like to have played a few more games but it's not about individuals. It's about the team and I think the position we're in at the moment is a good position. Our aim as a team is to stay in the division and at the moment we're doing that.

'The lads who have been playing have been doing exceptionally well, so I can't have too many complaints. If it was up to me I'd be playing every single week, but it's part of football and sometimes as much as you may not like it, you learn from not playing.

'You get to look on from the sides and I think it makes you stronger as a player, because maybe when you do get that next chance you know you have to take it because you'll be back on the sides.

'I'm no different to any player. I'm sure if you asked any professional footballer, no one wants to be sitting on the side on a Saturday afternoon.'

Howson is sharp enough to realise the onus is on Hughton's shadow players to be ready when the call does eventually come.

'It doesn't change your ability as a player, it just changes your mentality more than anything else,' he said.

'Not that you switch off as such, but you learn from your experiences. You ask anybody when they've had a run out of the side, for some reason you get a little hungrier and it's no different in that respect. No professional footballer wants to have a regular place on the bench.

'The fact of the matter is someone has to be there. When you're out, it's your job to push the ones that are playing, to keep them on their toes. You know when you are in the side you've got someone on your shoulder, pushing you to get back in. You want competition for places because it keeps everyone on your toes. No one can switch off in the squad because when you have quality players around you know it's going to be harder to get your place back if you do lose it.'