Scotland's loss is Norwich City's gain when it comes to Robert Snodgrass

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Robert SnodgrassPA Photos

Robert Snodgrass' absence for Scotland's latest World Cup qualifier against Macedonia will play well with those who rally behind Norwich City's cause.

The 26-year-old's booking in Friday's 2-0 Hampden Park defeat to the powerful Belgians ruled him out of contention for the trip to Skopje. Chris Hughton can breathe a little easier given Snodgrass' absolutely pivotal role over these coming months as the Canaries' gear up for a weekend league trip to Tottenham, where Snodgrass effectively announced his arrival on the big stage last season.

The Scot was undoubtedly the shining light during a period of deep introspection for Hughton and his squad during the early uncomfortable phase of his Carrow Road tenure after replacing Paul Lambert. Norwich's collective struggles were in stark contrast to the seamless transition from the Championship made by the former Leeds' wide player. The Glaswegian's first Premier League goal in his third Norwich appearance rescued a deserved point at White Hart Lane that carried the promise of better times around the corner. Snodgrass went on to finish a productive campaign with six league goals after featuring in all 38 of the club's Premier League tussles.

The Scot's mastery of the set piece and his trickery on the flanks were staple elements underpinning Hughton's progressive response to chastening adversity. Snodgrass' voracious appetite for hard work allied to his craft and guile helped forge a special affinity with the Norwich fan base who voted him as runner-up in their annual player-of-the-year award behind another impressive debutant in Sebastien Bassong.

Hughton moved to alleviate some of the stress and over-reliance on Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington with his summer addition of exciting England Under-21 starlet Nathan Redmond. Battle lines appeared to have been drawn with Hughton happy to concede in the quest for a sustained competitive edge he saw Redmond and Pilkington vying for that left-sided berth and Snodgrass challenged by Elliott Bennett on the opposite wing.

Snodgrass returned from his last international tour of duty with a groin niggle following the Scots' frenetic friendly defeat at Wembley in August. Reason enough to pray for his safe passage this time with his country, but Bennett's long term knee ligament injury sustained in deputising for Snodgrass after he had to sit out the opening weekend league draw against Everton merely amplifies his importance to the cause.

Bennett is in the first stages of rehab after surgery and has been omitted from Hughton's 25-man squad listing until the transfer window re-opens in the New Year. Norwich's manager resisted the obvious temptation to search for a short-term fix with an unscheduled late foray in the most recent trading window.

Snodgrass will remain the main man on the right, despite the flexibility of both Pilkington and Redmond to switch their points of attack. The experiment that saw Jonny Howson tried in an unaccustomed wide role lasted barely 45 minutes in the away league defeat at Hull that followed Everton, before Snodgrass was pushed back into action in a failed attempt to retrieve a lost cause on Humberside.

The midfielder can expect to see plenty of action for his club over the opening months of this fresh campaign. For now at least his country will have to wait.


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