'Natural-born goalscorer' Idah to get FA Cup start for Norwich

Norwich's injury crisis up front could leave the Corkman in the frame to start against Manchester United the following Saturday.

'Natural-born goalscorer' Idah to get FA Cup start for Norwich

Teenage talent Adam Idah will start for Norwich City tomorrow for only the second time in his senior career, at Preston North End in the FA Cup third round.

And the Cork-born prospect and College Corinthians youth product will do so with words of praise from manager Daniel Farke, and a warning not to do as badly as the last time.

The 18-year-old, already a Republic of Ireland Under-21 regular after a promising under-age GAA spell with Douglas, was handed a brief taste of Premier League football on Wednesday when he came on for the final two minutes of a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

The physically powerful forward did well in that brief cameo as he joined Aaron Connolly, Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott on a list of young Irish frontmen keen to make goal-filled careers in the English top division.

Farke confirmed as much but the German also made it clear he also expected a significant improvement on the first and last time he picked him to start, back in August.

That was in the Carabao Cup at Crawley Town of League Two, who progressed at the Canaries' expense after Idah sliced a shot from Beryly Lubula into his own net for the tie's only goal.

"Adam Idah is a good lad and is physically strong," Farke said. "He is in because of injuries to other players but it is not a gift. He's working hard every day and tries to improve, but I don't like to be over the moon about a good two minutes or too strict when there is a poor performance.

"His only game in the starting line-up for us so far was at Crawley and he was involved in the goal for Crawley.

Everyone punished him by saying he was too far away and that we needed other options but we still backed him and believed he could improve.

"When he came on against Crystal Palace he looked sharp and had one good duel where he was able to keep the ball but it was not like he saved the world in those three minutes."

True, Idah is only starting because Teemu Pukki, Norwich's automatic pick at the head of a 4-2-3-1 formation, has a hamstring injury and experienced back-up forwards Josip Drmic and Dennis Srbeny are also injured.

Pukki, who has nine Premier League goals so far, faces a race against time to be fit for the following Saturday's trip to Manchester United and it is unclear whether Drmic or Srbeny, who have a total of two Premier League goals between them, can make it either.

Could Idah find himself in the same situation as Marcus Rashford back in February 2016 when Louis van Gaal suddenly found himself without established strikers at the Theatre of Dreams?

"He has improved without doubt, although I wouldn't compare him with Marcus Rashford just yet," Farke said. "He has played two minutes in the Premier League and is not yet off the mark. If I was being nasty I would say at Crawley he was off the mark but in the wrong direction.

"But he is full of potential and we totally trust him and back him. He has shown at youth level that he has a gift in that he is able to score goals. It is a natural instinct - he is a natural-born goalscorer. In front of goal he has great finishes and good decisions and you have to value this. He is really blessed in these topics but hard work is always the answer in order to improve. If he works hard he will have a bright future."

Idah might have expected a loan move to a Football League club this month, and that could eventually materialise. But for now he has Preston in his sights, and perhaps Manchester United as well.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox