Rapid rise continuing for Canaries prospect Aarons after derby debut
Making your league debut for Norwich City amid the pressure of derby day may have been a big ask of Max Aarons - but he is not the first to do it.
Making your league debut for Norwich City amid the pressure of derby day may have been a big ask of Max Aarons – but he is not the first to do it.
The 18-year-old earned the trust of Daniel Farke with two appearances in the Carabao Cup, scoring during the 3-1 win over Cardiff before being chucked into the deep end at Portman Road.
The right-back’s first Championship chance was set against the background of Ipswich fans cranking up the volume in their desperation for Town’s winless derby streak to be brought to an end.
Yet the youngster – who was still playing in FA Youth Cup games in February – survived the tough task with his head held high, showing confidence beyond his years to help the Canaries hit back and draw 1-1.
It may not have been a vintage performance from City but the satisfaction of stretching their unbeaten streak against the Suffolk boys to 11 matches came with a youthful edge.
As well as Aarons on the right, 20-year-old Jamal Lewis continued his progression at left-back and Argentine attacker Emi Buendia, 21, made a first league start since his £1.5million summer switch from Getafe.
When Ben Godfrey, 20, replaced the injured Timm Klose at half-time the City defence’s average age came down to 21, with the relative veteran of 26-year-old skipper Grant Hanley at its heart amid the Town bombardment in the opening stages of the second half.
It was another feather in the cap for the work of the academy coaches at Colney, with local lad Todd Cantwell also having started both Carabao Cup games so far this season.
It’s Aarons who has been thrust to the forefront though, using his pace to push forward and link with Buendia on the right and refusing to be bullied in defence.
There were nervy moments, including a couple of scuffed attempted clearances, but just surviving the encounter with credit in the bank was brilliant experience.
The former Luton Town trainee also had to complete the final 15 minutes carrying a knock, after going down for treatment for what appeared to be cramp after Farke had already made his three permitted substitutions.
His efforts showed exactly why City signed the Milton Keynes-raised prospect on professional terms through until 2021 in June, handling the big occasion with an attitude that suggests he can be trusted at Championship level.
There is further evidence that top-level talent runs in the youngster’s family as well, with older cousin Rolando Aarons on the books at Newcastle United.
The 22-year-old winger has made 27 appearances for the Magpies and spent last season with Italian club Verona, playing in 11 Serie A games. He also won five caps at U20 level with England and now his Norfolk-based relative is set to follow suit.
Max’s rapid rise has earned a call-up to the England U19 squad for the current international break, for a friendly against the Netherlands at St George’s Park tomorrow (2pm) and another in Belgium on Monday, ahead of European qualifiers in November.
To emphasise the importance of joining the national pathway, Aarons joins 16 players who won the U17 World Cup last year in the 23-man squad.
He joins hot prospects such as Jadon Sancho, who is playing regularly in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi – who have both seen Premier League action already.
He heads off on international duty having joined a select band of players who have made their City debuts on derby day as well.
Robert Green is perhaps the most pertinent comparison, with the goalkeeper called into action to cover for the injured Andy Marshall in April 1999 and keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road.
Another young debutant against Ipswich was Arsenal loanee Henri Lansbury, just 20 and just 34 minutes into his City career when he threaded through that beautiful pass to allow Grant Holt to fire the hosts back in front during the 4-1 triumph of November 2010.
Of course the Portman Road debut of them all came courtesy of Leon McKenzie just four days before Christmas 2003, aged 25 at the time and fresh from a £325,000 switch from Peterborough.
Aarons may not have been able to send the Canaries top of the league at Portman Road in such memorable style but he played a key part in salvaging a draw – to continue a proud unbeaten run for Norwich which stretches all the way back to when he was just nine years of age.
It is just the start for the youngster but a career of real promise could be unfolding.