Paddy Davitt: Game of patience reaching a conclusion for Declan Rudd at Norwich City

Declan Rudd risked a red card with a wild challenge on Bournemouth's Benik Afobe in Norwich City's 3

Declan Rudd risked a red card with a wild challenge on Bournemouth's Benik Afobe in Norwich City's 3-0 Premier League defeat. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Chief Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt assesses whether Declan Rudd can force his way back in this season, in the latest part of a summer series.

There is no doubting Declan Rudd's commitment to the Norwich City cause, but the boyhood Canary is rapidly approaching a defining phase of his football career.

Rudd is one of the success stories from Norwich's academy; the Diss-bred prospect was first spotted as a nine-year-old.

It is a huge testament to him and the ever-expanding academy set-up that Alex Neil felt comfortable in finally giving the 25-year-old a first, sustained run at Premier League level.

Rudd proved during a hugely-successful season-long loan stint with Preston, that ended in a League One play-off push, he could handle the transition from promising youngster to proven professional. North End would have loved to entice Rudd back to Lancashire 12 months ago but the keeper made it abundantly clear to Neil and goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely that Norwich is his club and he wanted to fight John Ruddy for the prime spot.

That in itself was a revealing glimpse into Rudd's character and belief in his own ability. Few begrudged him a chance in the top flight when he replaced the former England man for the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Watford in December, after two eye-catching cup displays against Rotherham and West Brom.

City were poor at Vicarage Road as a collective unit but Rudd enhanced his claims in denying the likes of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo on numerous occasions.

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Better was to come. Much better, in fact, with a leading role in that memorable landmark 2-1 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Rudd was also a steady presence in those festive victories and clean sheets against Aston Villa and Southampton. It appeared a seamless transition to the big time. There was even an optimistic groundswell touting him for a late run to the England squad ahead of the European Championships, but after such glorious highs the landing was painfully hard. Rudd was let down by the men in front of him at Stoke City in what triggered an alarming decline for both the young understudy and the Canaries.

The nature of Liverpool's bizarre 5-4 win at Carrow Road would have tested the mettle of an experienced number one but after a fortuitous escape at Bournemouth - when he wiped out Benik Afobe and escaped with a yellow card - another rush of blood at Villa Park gifted Gabby Agbonlahor his one and only goal of last season.

It was tough on Rudd but few doubted it was the right time to restore Ruddy to the ranks. The Premier League is no place for learning your trade but there is no question Rudd is now a better keeper for his experiences at the sharp end.

The question is whether he can dislodge Ruddy with his club back in the exacting environment of the Championship. The gruelling, incessant nature of the league games and the huge expectations on Neil's squad to bounce back at the first attempt demand a strong, calming influence at the back.

Rudd looks capable of performing in the second tier but this is as much about timing now.

As much as he wants to make a permanent breakthrough at his hometown club he will know better than most he also needs to be playing regular football.

How patient the man from Diss is prepared to be may prove the deciding factor in what the future holds this coming campaign.