Norwich City youngsters making good progress
- Credit: JASON DAWSON
There have been plenty of highs and lows for Norwich City's fledgling youngsters already this season but U21s coach Dmitri Halajko has been pleased with the progress of his players.
Drawing 0-0 with Liverpool in front of over 9,000 supporters at Carrow Road on Monday night left his team in 10th place in Division One of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
Three wins and two draws from 12 games may not seem like the most profitable first half of the campaign at first look, but there has been plenty for Halajko to savour.
Beating Manchester United 2-0 and thumping Southampton 7-2 – with Jamar Loza scoring five – have been among the positives, as was the 1-0 win over the youngsters of Spanish club Villarreal in the Premier League International Cup.
The frustration of a six-match losing streak also remains fresh in the memory though, with Halajko reflecting: 'We had a little sticky patch in the middle of this half of the season, which we've overcome and we're glad we've come through that.
'The last four games we've looked like an established team in the league, even though we lost last week (2-0 at Sunderland), I thought we deserved at least a draw.
'We drew (with Liverpool) and won the two previous to that so I think we're moving in the right direction and the lads are progressing in the right way.'
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Much of that inconsistency can be aligned to the club having so many players out on loan, including the Murphy twins and Harry Toffolo, but Halajko has also benefitted from the involvement of senior players.
Three over-age players are permitted in games, with Kyle Lafferty scoring in the win over Manchester United and Vadis Odjidja Ofoe, Graham Dorrans and Russell Martin all among the senior players to have been involved.
The only over-age player to feature against Liverpool's U21s was goalkeeper Jake Kean, with 17-year-old attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell being named as man of the match and receiving praise from Halajko.
'I think he's got a lot more to come as well,' the academy coach added. 'He's scored a great goal for the under-18s in the youth cup, when they beat Hull 3-1 away.
'He picked the ball up out wide, beat two players and bent it in the top corner, and that's what he can do.
'He's represented England at under-17s level and he needs to keep on working hard. He's done well but I think there's more to come from him.
'He's from Dereham, he's been in the system since under-10s so he's been an academy player all the way through and been with us a long time now.'