Louis Thompson is turning up the heat on Norwich City’s central midfield rivals
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Louis Thompson is now a frontline Championship option for Alex Neil.
The 21-year-old has yet to make a league start for the Canaries since moving from Swindon in 2014 but Thompson is poised to get his big chance with Graham Dorrans and Alex Tettey one booking away from a possible suspension and Jonny Howson out injured for the next two months.
'I would have absolutely no fears about putting him in,' said Neil, after Thompson's impressive EFL Cup showing at Leeds. 'I thought he was fantastic. That is great for him and us because on a few occasions now he has shown he is capable of coming in and doing a really good job. I think he will naturally become Alex's successor in that role.'
Neil remains a firm advocate of blooding raw talent as he looks to progress the club beyond this season's promotion tilt.
'I said at the end of last season I would give some of the younger boys a chance,' he said. 'We have seen that with the Murphys, James Maddison was a bit unfortunate because of the amount of numbers we had in that position, but his time will come. Louis Thomspon and even Alex Pritchard are still young players and you saw Ben Godfrey at right-back the other night, who is only a lad. I think I have been good as my word. They are not all going to be ready at the same time but for the longevity of the club we have to give them an opportunity, but it can't come to the detriment of points. I am trying to strike that balance. It becomes difficult because we all want them to do well. For those who say they need to play to get that development I can't afford to bleed in too many and jeopardize winning.'
Jacob Murphy was City's most potent weapon in the early weeks but the youngster's dip and the relative lack of options have been a growing sub-plots with Josh Murphy and Sergi Canos failing to grasp their chance at Leeds.
'I would probably agree they didn't perform as well as I know they are capable of performing,' said Neil. 'There is no question they have got talent but I have seen them play better. If Canos or Josh were showing up better than Jacob then they would play ahead of him. Jacob, at the moment, certainly based on the first seven or eight games, and what he was giving us in terms of statistics, was outstanding.
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'It is hard for a young man to maintain that level over a longer period. Ideally you drop them out and let them go again. We have really taken care of Jacob this week to be ready for Brighton. I don't think Josh or Sergi, based on how they performed, have shown they are more-equipped than Jacob to play.'