Paddy Davitt: Time for Steven Naismith to deliver at Norwich City

Steven Naismith had a Norwich City debut to remember. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Steven Naismith had a Norwich City debut to remember. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Steven Naismith could hold the key to Norwich City's Championship bid argues Paddy Davitt in the latest of a summer series.

Norwich City's first team coach Alan Irvine in discussion with Steven Naismith during training at Co

Norwich City's first team coach Alan Irvine in discussion with Steven Naismith during training at Colney. Picture: Jasonpix - Credit: Jason Dawson

The bitter irony surrounding Steven Naismith's frustrating opening chapters at Norwich City is the fact had he arrived in this summer transfer window the Scot's signing would be subject to universal acclaim.

A full international with a fine pedigree at Rangers before moving to Merseyside, where he became a huge favourite with the blue half of the city in a career that saw him make 100 Premier League appearances for Everton.

A cunning, clever operator who plays the game with a drive and a passion typified perhaps in the well worn television footage aired following his January arrival of a bygone tussle with his new Norwich City manager, when they were on opposite sides of the pitch in Scotland.

A Norwich debut memorable for so many reasons, if not three league points, against his former enemies, Liverpool that hinted at immense promise to come in a yellow shirt.

But the rest of the season failed to pan out how either Naismith or those home fans who acclaimed him after his goalscoring first outing against the Reds could ever have imagined.

The effort and the endeavour were still evident in a series of laboured cameos, but that genuine star quality was delivered fitfully and seemingly strangled perhaps by the increasingly desperate nature of City's plight.

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There was clearly mitigation. Alex Neil alluded to fitness issues – perhaps relating to Naismith's relative inactivity at Goodison Park for many months – prior to finally completing a move to Norfolk which had been on the cards the previous summer.

Former Toffees' boss Roberto Martinez's reluctance to sanction a move 12 months ago had major ramifications, when it came to the margin of error for the Scot to try and hit the ground running. There was also a personal dimension and the addition to Naismith's expanding family, which saw his wife remain north of the border as the 29-year-old looked to justify the faith shown in him by Neil; a facet perhaps all too easy to overlook when players uproot from one end of the country to the other and all the upheaval such a decision triggers away from that patch of grass on which they will be judged.

Naismith has never played a single minute in the Championship in his career but with his pedigree and experience he should emerge as one of the leaders in Neil's squad.

There can be no excuses this time around, and given the Scot's acute sense of social awareness and his volunteer work away from the game, he hardly appears a type who would seek any.

Naismith himself will know he failed to deliver at the back-end of a bumpy Premier League campaign, but as that skirmish with Neil in the blue of Rangers proved the character and the fighting instinct is not in doubt. Neither is the quality and Norwich need to see the full package in the weeks and months ahead.

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