Why James Maddison may have to bide his time at Norwich City

James Maddison is yet to make a league debut for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

James Maddison is yet to make a league debut for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The winds of change have started to blow at Norwich City but do not expect a mass influx of young talent over the Championship run-in.

Ben Godfrey has had a taste of the first team at Norwich City this season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/

Ben Godfrey has had a taste of the first team at Norwich City this season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

James Maddison's matchday involvement against Reading was limited to a brief cameo in one of the hospitality lounges prior to the historic 7-1 victory. Ben Godfrey was on duty for the development squad at Wolves on Monday night. Both have been at the forefront of a public groundswell demanding the club's brightest gems are given exposure to salvage something from a season that claimed Alex Neil and brought Stuart Webber to the club as part of a bold, new approach.

You can see the attraction. Young, hungry, talented footballers desperate to make a statement and follow in the tramlines of Jacob Murphy.

Prior to confirmation of Webber's arrival from Huddersfield that looked the only avenue to channel a tangible urge to see visible signs of transition. To transform the mood music.

City's board made it clear from the outset speed would not be a priceless commodity in recruiting a sporting director and a head coach. Webber is now in post, the head coach search will be concluded at the end of the current campaign.

The public pronouncements from the 33-year-old at his official unveiling on Friday set the parameters for some fundamental revision to the playing squad over the summer as part of a cultural and philosophical shift at Carrow Road.

But Alan Irvine's comments on the eve of the Royals' visit, regarding his approach to youth, may understandably have got lost in the desire to hear Webber's exciting blueprint.

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Irvine's coaching credentials at development level are impeccable. A long stint as the head of Everton's academy allow him to speak with authority about how to integrate the likes of Maddison, Godfrey or even Josh Murphy over the run-in. Given they were uttered merely a few hours before the Scot was confirmed in his temporary post until QPR's final day league visit they now carry greater significance.

'First of all the last thing you want to do with young players is hang them out to dry,' he said. 'There are plenty of cases, and bear in mind a lot of my time as a coach has been spent on the other side, the development side, and even within that role at places like Everton it was a case of my job is to make sure the manager knows there are some good young players here but also a part of it where he is not ready yet.

'It is vitally important we don't put them in too early because they can have the worst experience ever and never come again. Sadly I have seen that happen in the past. Young players will be given a chance if I think they are ready to cope with it and I feel the team can look after them. You can really damage them if you are not careful. It is vitally important to be aware of that.

'There are more and more young players training with us at the moment but again, that is one of the steps along the way to breaking into the team. I have to try and make sure, without even looking at next season, I do what I think is right for the club. If that is playing some young players we will look for some opportunities to do that. If it is sticking with the guys in the team right now who are more senior I will do that.

'I will just pick the best team I can that I am in charge of.'

In other words, Maddison or Godfrey or even Josh Murphy can not bank on automatically being fast-tracked into the mix.

It is easy to overlook Alex Pritchard is still only 23 and perhaps enjoying his first sustained run in the starting line up this campaign. The former Tottenham starlet is considerably further along his career path than those younger team mates but had to defer to the likes of Wes Hoolahan and Steven Naismith.

Maddison, commendably, declined another loan spell in January to try and force his way into the first team picture. Managerial change does not make that any easier. Allied to Pritchard's growing influence and the enduring class and quality of a fresh Hoolahan.

There will be change at Carrow Road in the weeks and months ahead. Expect it to accelerate once Webber has installed his preferred head coach. But it will still be an arduous road to the biggest stage for a talented seam of young talent at Carrow Road.