Norwich City midfielder Jonny Howson is playing a waiting game
Jonny Howson knows he may have to play the waiting game a while longer.
Norwich's January arrival from Leeds featured for the first time in City colours during a 90-minute midweek reserve run out against Wolves. Howson yesterday declared himself fit for Premier League duty but is under no illusions how difficult it will be to force his way into the Canaries' midfield.
'It was nice to be playing in a competitive match again but it's going to be very difficult at this minute in time to push into that side because of how well the lads are doing,' he said. 'There are lads on the bench who aren't getting a game. So it is going to be very difficult but I'm sure that when it comes round I just can't wait for that moment. This has been the longest I have been out since I made my debut. The one before this I was out for a month. It's the first time I've moved as well, so it's broken it up a little bit but I'm just glad it's over now.
'It's up to the manager when it happens. It's only the one game I've played in the reserves so I'll just have to see how it goes. If I keep working hard in training, keep trying to get up to the speed of the other lads, we'll see where it goes.'
Howson is confident he can fit whatever midfield model Paul Lambert is looking for after being deployed in a variety of roles on his first Norwich outing since a knee injury in early December.
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'It was just good to be back out there, back playing,' he said. 'It feels forever since I last played a competitive game, so it was about getting my fitness first and foremost, but I thought it went well. It's one thing you have to be able to do, especially at this higher level. You've got to be able to play in numerous positions. In the reserve game I played in behind the striker, which I find more favourable to myself, but then the last 10 or 15 minutes I was just in front of the back four, so I've played in a few different formations in my time at Leeds so it's something I think I'd like to fit into.'
Howson's enforced lay-off has given him an extended chance to do his homework on both the Canaries and his new Premier League workplace.
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'I think if you ask any professional, they don't like watching,' he said. 'Maybe it's been a little bit different coming down to a new club because in a way I've got to watch a few things from the sidelines, how the lads play and how they deal with certain things, so in that way maybe it's helped a little bit. For any professional when you're watching, you're all the time just thinking, 'I wish it was me out there'.
'From what I've seen and even from my little experience of playing Premier League teams, they just seem to have that bit more quality. If they get chances, they seem to put them away, especially at each end of the pitch, in each box, it just picks up the speed that much quicker, whether you're defending or attacking. The ball moves that bit quicker, they find those tighter gaps and when chances are there, nine times out of 10 the top players put them away.'
Howson warns a trip to Stoke will be a test of brain as much as brawn.
'They're know for the physical aspect of their game but they've got some good players as well,' he said. 'Even the little time I've spent watching them, there are no easy games here, speaking to the lads every game is a massive game and Stoke will be no different to that.
'I think last weekend showed how good the level of performance was when Sir Alex Ferguson came out and said the better team lost. It's credit to everyone who's been involved and what they've done over the past two or three seasons, to play a team like Manchester United and be the better side, and it was so unfortunate to concede a last-minute goal. But as disappointing as it was, they walked away with their heads held high.'