Norwich City's Martin Olsson is ready to emerge from the shadows

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Martin Olsson: Has had limited chances at Norwich.PA PhotosMartin Olsson: Knows the importance of the Spurs game.

Norwich City's support will hope Swedish international defender Martin Olsson's World Cup qualifying starring role is a good omen.

The 25-year-old attacking full-back has played a key part in Sweden's successful play-off bid, which concludes on Tuesday with the formality of a test against group winners Germany.

Olsson's diving header opened the scoring in Friday's vital 2-1 qualifying win over Austria that was sealed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's late strike in Stockholm.

The defender was also an integral figure in the previous qualifying wins over the Republic of Ireland and Kazakhstan -- in marked contrast to his peripheral role for the Canaries. Olsson's Norwich career to date has been a trial of patience, since arriving from Blackburn in the summer as part of Chris Hughton's ambitious transfer overhaul.

Olsson's seven-year stint in Lancashire ended on a sour note with a knee injury that abbreviated his farewell campaign at Ewood Park. Hughton's reluctance to blood Olsson during the club's pre-season USA tour was all part of the same arduous road back to full fitness. But such confinement had begun to irk many City fans when the Swede could still not even make the bench during the opening weeks of the new Premier League season.

A forceful goalscoring display in the 6-3 Capital One Cup romp over Bury on his competitive debut offered temporary respite to the isolation. Hughton's seemingly marked reluctance to deploy Olsson was one of the charges starting to stack up against the manager after some anaemic displays and patchy results.

Critics have long alluded to his perceived caution in style and approach; but raised expectations from a transfer splurge of record proportions is yet to eradicate many of the same frustrations. Olsson would appear to be the type of player Hughton has identified to help smooth that evolutionary process.

The defender revealed on the club's Stateside trip just how prolonged the courtship had been from Norwich's manager after Rovers reportedly rebuffed previous interest. That injury should intervene again in the Swede's favour to break the current impasse appears fitting. A groin problem suffered by his direct rival, Javier Garrido, in the Capital One Cup success at Watford that followed the Bury glut accelerated the Swede's return to the fold, after he started that extra-time win at Vicarage Road in an advanced position in front of the Spaniard.

Olsson retained his place for the next league games against Stoke and Chelsea prior to his latest international service. His energetic urgings and a game honed on athletic ability appear tailor-made for English conditions. Norwich loanee Johan Elmander recently outlined the attacking ambition of Premier League full-backs as one of the major advances in England in the intervening three-year period since he had left Bolton; the Swedish stalwart could well have been referring directly to his international and club colleague.

Olsson's prowess in the final third is likely to prove a major asset over the course of a gruelling debut league season for Norwich that may well now end with a trip to Brazil. If that is the case, the 25-year-old could have due cause to thank Hughton for delaying his initial breakthrough at Carrow Road.


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