With U21 training camp friendlies complete, the two victories they earned show us a lot about Norwich’s youth, about the well known youngsters and some surprises we’ve never heard of.
The first port of call is that a surprise has burst onto the scene in the form of Jamie Eaton-Collins. The 18-year-old striker, who has also been known to play in the centre of midfield, bagged a hat trick in the first friendly against SV Kirchdorf. Even though this is a local team who are far down the Austrian leagues, a hat trick against a senior team is impressive, especially for one of the youngest squad members. Eaton-Collins was the highest scorer in his final season with the U18 side (13-14) and his knack for scoring has not been lost.
The preseason tour had also shown Jamar Loza’s quality. His two goals have shown his attacking instinct that has already been proven with his heroics in the first team against Huddersfield. Both goals were calm and collected, and showed he could keep a cool head to seal chances- an important skill for a hot attacking prospect. Whether this year will be the year Loza can seriously contend for a first team place is yet to be seen, but with the high quality that has been seen of him, he will certainly be knocking on the door of a regular place on the bench or even fighting for minutes.
Norwich’s most exciting youth prospect, Josh Murphy, shone again on this tour. While he failed to score, he played vital roles in setting up goals and making space with his incredible pace. With his brother training, Jacob, with the senior squad, Josh ensured he remains in the limelight and that manager Alex Neil will still remember the flair and attacking spark he can bring to a game. Louis Thompson also impressed on the tour, getting the winner in the 2-1 victory against Gaziantepspor. Unlike the game against SV Kirchdorf, Gaizentepspor are a very reputable opposition, finishing mid table in the highest division of Turkish football last season. Thompson’s capitalisation on a defensive error and collected finish show he is looking to be an exciting player in years to come.
Finally, this tour has shown the depth of Norwich’s youth ranks. When many city fans think of our current youth players, few venture past the Murphy twins or Loza. With the range of players on display and the quality produced by a number of individuals, it shows that players to push through the youth ranks will not be limited to one or two, but maybe six or seven. FA Youth Cup winning captain Cameron Norman is an unknown figure to many fans, but has shown he can be a leader on the pitch and also has impressive ability in midfield. Michelle Efete popped up on the scoresheet and impressed with the U21 team last season, another prospect who could burst through. Overall, this tour has cemented the fact that Norwich are enjoying a rich flow of youth prospects, and that we should treasure it while it lasts.