Scout report: Todd Cantwell displaying the exciting talent that earned long-term contract at Norwich City

Todd Cantwell was on target for the Under-23s at Stoke. Picture: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images

Todd Cantwell was on target for the Under-23s at Stoke. Picture: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

There are creative midfielders everywhere you look at Norwich City, as the battle to become Wes Hoolahan's long-term successor continues to brew.

Hoolahan remains creator in chief at Carrow Road and City's longest-serving player is yet to be usurped by summer signing Alex Pritchard in the first team.

Beyond the talented senior duo is another pair of twinkle-toed playmakers who covet the Canaries' number 10 shirt, in James Maddison and Todd Cantwell.

With 20-year-old Maddison prevented from any action this week by a back complaint, Cantwell had the chance to impress fans when City's under-23s took on Aston Villa at Carrow Road on Monday.

Match report: Norwich City U23s 0 Aston Villa U23s 1 – Keeper denies young Canaries in feisty encounter

The Premier League Two encounter may have finished in a 1-0 defeat but Cantwell couldn't have done much more to try and salvage something from the game.

The Dereham-raised 18-year-old, who first started playing for the academy at U10 level, took a couple of poor corners early on but came to life with some Hoolahan-esque magic in the 17th minute. After looking to be stuck in a dead end on the right with two markers in close attendance, Cantwell's quick feet soon saw him turn into space, leaving his markers for dust, only to put just too much on his pass through to Benny Ashley-Seal.

He was inches from opening the scoring in the 30th minute, with his curling shot from edge of the box just not dipping enough and dropping on to the roof of the net.

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The former Northgate High pupil made the wrong decision seconds before the half-time whistle after Ebou Adams set him free on the edge of the box, opting to try and play through Ashley-Seal to his left, when Glenn Middleton was charging through unmarked to his right.

Team performance impresses Norwich City Under-23s boss despite 'disappointing' loss to Aston Villa

He remained at the heart of the action in the second half and thumped the base of the right-hand post after superb work from Middleton on the wing to tee him up on the left of the Villa area.

Cantwell almost replied immediately, smashing a shot from the edge of the box which brought a top save from Viktor Johansson three minutes later.

He couldn't force the goal he deserved as City ran out of steam but it was a display which showed exactly why the Canaries handed him a contract which stretches to 2019 and, potentially, beyond.

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