Paddy Davitt: Graham Dorrans is a valuable asset at Norwich City
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Can Graham Dorrans revive his Norwich City career? Chief Canaries' writer Paddy Davitt assesses his chances in the latest part of a summer series.
Given Alex Neil tried to make Graham Dorrans his first signing at Norwich City it is safe to assume he rates the Scottish international midfielder highly.
Dorrans was part of that reported late night double deal with Martin Olsson that fell through in the closing minutes of the January 2015 deadline. Neil and Norwich only had to wait a month or so before a loan move could be pushed through to entice Dorrans from Premier League West Brom.
The 29-year-old underlined his value in a promotion surge which ended in success at Wembley, before Dorrans' permanent switch from the Hawthorns was confirmed 12 months ago.
Filtered through that timeline of events there would be little argument Dorrans is not only valued by Neil but can operate back in the Championship.
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The inevitable cloud or two comes from the reality Dorrans then watched the majority of City's Premier League struggles from the confines of the dugout or the stands. The former Livingston playmaker made only 14 top flight starts, two of those coming in the final week. But his measured promptings and range of passing in that 4-2 home finale against Watford was a pertinent reminder to Neil and City supporters there might be a role for the midfielder in a team that would expect to dictate more often than not back in the second tier.
Gary O'Neil's summer departure removes one potential obstacle. The arrival of James Maddison and any other business Neil's elects to sanction in that part of the pitch between now and September 1 may dictate where Dorrans fits into the puzzle. But given Neil was publically bullish at the start of this summer dismissing rumours of interest from Scottish giants Rangers in bringing Dorrans back home the implication must be he views his compatriot as a valuable member of his squad.
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Dorrans' cunning in that deeper-lying quarterback role, picking up the ball off Norwich's back four, is likely to be a prized commodity; particularly at Carrow Road this coming season when the natural inclination for most visiting sides will be to concede territory and space and invite Neil's men to break them down. Wes Hoolahan is cut from the same creative mould but prefers to operate nearer the opposition penalty box. Dorrans has the capacity to get City moving through those congested central areas of the field with the likes of Alex Tettey or Youssouf Mulumbu offering protection and defensive insurance.
Dorrans may not be one of the key cornerstones, in the same mould as a Tettey or a Jonny Howson, figures you would justifiably expect to feature on a weekly basis barring injury or suspension. But in the right setting and at the right time during any given match the Scot clearly can influence games in the Championship, and Norwich will need plenty of variety to achieve the stated aim of a brief stay in the second tier this season.