Paddy Davitt: Norwich City and Jonny Howson are the perfect fit

Jonny Howson is highly-valued at Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson is highly-valued at Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson is highly valued at Carrow Road with good reason, argues chief Norwich City writer Paddy Davitt, in the latest part of a summer series.

Jonny Howson does not need an armband to be viewed as one the leaders of the pack at Norwich City.

Howson by nature is a quiet, unassuming, almost shy figure, but there is no doubt he is a driving force in Alex Neil's plans for Championship progress.

City's support recognised that influence when he was crowned player of the year but accepting his trophy from the widow of Barry Butler, while on crutches, ahead of the final home win over Watford felt entirely in keeping with a wretched end to the season.

Howson's knee ligament injury, picked up days earlier against Manchester United, which came after the abrupt injury exits of both Alex Tettey and Timm Klose, was merely confirmation of City's fate.

Neil has already made it clear to Tettey he will be a pivotal figure in the fight back. Klose is a player who would enhance City's promotion prospects. But there will no public pronouncements on Howson.

Unquestionably his displays in central midfield, both last season and during City's recent tours of the Premier League, indicate he could engineer a swift return to the top flight. Do not expect the Yorkshireman to feature regularly in any transfer gossip columns.

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Observe the relationship from a distance and the marriage appears a perfect fit.

Howson is valued and respected by his manager, his team-mates and Norwich City's support. The midfielder knows, barring an alarming drop in form, he is likely to be one of the first names on Neil's team sheet again this coming season. Given City are committed to a sustained promotion push he must also realise the Scot will get the transfer market backing to bolster a squad which retains a core of players who know what it takes to get out of the second tier; Howson principal among them.

The former Leeds trainee could swap that for the uncertainty of a Premier League squad place at a club similarly fighting for survival. Uproot a young family settled in this part of the world and a manager who routinely eulogises about his abilities as a polished, all-round modern midfielder to start over again. At 28, Howson faces different career choices to a Nathan Redmond or a Robbie Brady.

For all the negative connotations that inevitably attach themselves to a relegated club, Norwich is a stable environment for any player who understands the difficulties of bridging that divide from the Championship and trying to combat the financial inequality with the elite. Howson is one of those stabilising forces in the City dressing room. Neil and the fans know what to expect from him to offset the uncertainty inherent in trying to extricate themselves from the second tier. Howson paired with the combative Tettey or the more refined Graham Dorrans is a central midfield axis that should enable Norwich to control a key battleground more often than not. They are the pillars around which Neil can then seek to add the broader, creative brush strokes of a Wes Hoolahan or a James Maddison.

But Howson is Norwich's multi-dimensional midfielder. The one who can stick his foot in or unleash a thunderbolt into the top corner and make a late breaking run into the penalty box. That is why he is such a valuable commodity.

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