The last few months has seen the rise in criticism that Norwich haven’t made enough pathways for the talent in their academy.

In some ways it seems difficult justify such comments given the best player for Norwich so far this season is a player straight out of Colney in Jon Rowe.

There is also an argument to be made about Angus Gunn, but he only really accounts as an academy player under a technicality and his pathway isn’t really the normal one.

The flipside to the Jon Rowe show is that Norwich regularly field one of the oldest teams in the Championship and Liam Gibbs, who was Norwich’s young player of the season, is barely getting a kick and Adam Idah, another Colney product, has been forced to go out on loan to get regular game time. So, I can definitely see why many are concerned.

David Wagner’s defence that he has always looked to promote academy players across his 15-year career, and then only being able to cite two examples in Philip Billing and Jon Rowe, was a little weak.

Looking back at his career his Huddersfield team was largely made up of older, experienced players but at Schalke he gave lots of time to young players. I don’t think he has a fundamental preference to experienced pros but can see why he and Stuart Webber felt a few older heads were needed last summer. Norwich had a habit of collapsing under pressure and in players such as Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy their mentality was a large part of the appeal.

Ultimately, it is very easy to say that academy players should be given pathways, but it is much harder to do so. Much has been made about Norwich’s best young players wanting to leave to get game time. But this is also just a reflection of Norwich’s standing in English football. If a Premier League team is tempting you with a great contract and the potential to get into the top flight then it is hard to turn down regardless of the current pathway at your club.

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What does providing a pathway really mean? Usually, it is moving out existing players to create spaces in the squad. A pathway for an academy striker would have been not bringing in Sydney van Hooijdonk to replace the outgoing Idah and promoting a player from the academy. But is that something fans really want as it would likely be seen as a weakening of the squad.

The end of the season will see a large turnover of players, with numerous contracts coming to an end and given that Knapper suggested they are yet to open talks with any of them they all seem likely to leave. At this point an equal number of pathways into the squad will be opening up. You’d hope one of Jaden Warner, Brad Hills or Jonathan Tomkinson will be able to stake a place in the defence, or that Guilherme Montoia will show he is the left back going forward.

It will take bravery from the club to pin their hopes on academy players, because if it doesn’t work there will be plenty of accusations of Norwich taking the cheap route.