If ever there was proof that Paul Lambert already has one eye on the difficult second Premier League season, it came at five minutes to three on Saturday 21st April as James Vaughan emerged from the Blackburn Rovers tunnel, to make a surprising first Norwich City start.
The rest of that game can be glossed over for now …
Vaughan arrived from Everton during May 2011 as Paul Lambert’s first close season signing; having spent the previous season on loan at Crystal Palace. Lambert at the time described Vaughan as “a handful” and “a terrific lad.” And with fellow newcomer Steve Morison was to provide real competition for places upfront.
Since then injuries have limited Vaughan to four substitute appearances; all of which seem to have taken their toll on his knees, hamstrings, or indeed thanks to Gabriel Tamas’s elbow – his looks.
Norwich’s forward line without him at times looked a little threadbare. With the loss of form of Steve Morison and Simeon Jackson, the goal-scoring burden has fallen ever more on Grant Holt’s ongoing heroics. This has worked in the short-term, but one day the great man will return to normal human traits.
A run of four games will give Lambert a bit more of a clue as to whether Vaughan is the answer to this striking dilemma. His pace, attitude, and physicality seem custom made for Premier League football – he is, after all, the Premier League’s youngest ever goal-scorer. Proof, however, comes from a more detailed review of history books, not potential; the seasons’ statistics of appearances and goals are too light for a man of his undoubted talents.
The reason for this lightness is his injury record. Vaughan is, I’m afraid, one of those footballers who has done something to someone in a previous life. Knee ligaments, shoulders, hamstrings, and cartilage injuries have all, at times, throughout his career led to considerable treatment table time. Spend another year there at Colney and Paul Lambert may – all be it with a heavy heart – decide enough is enough.
In Vaughan, Paul Lambert recognised talent and potential. His talent and potential Vaughan has yet to be able to show the Canary faithful. With an injury-free season, every Norwich City fan will see what Vaughan is all about; and with it, the goals and recognition will surely follow.
James Vaughan may well yet be the most exciting addition to next season’s Norwich City squad …