In the fourth and final look at the young players sent out on loan last season, I’m going to take a look at Ben Godfrey.
Ben is a versatile player, with some discussion about what is his best position. He can play as a centre or right back or in midfield, but it was his role as a defensive midfielder for Shrewsbury last season that has caught the eye.
Still just 20 years of age, Godfrey was plucked from York City in 2016, having spent time at Middlesbrough, before being released and then having trials at Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday. He’d started playing for York in 2011 and returned in 2014 before catching the eye of Alex Neil.
He made just 12 appearances for York before joining Norwich and spent last season among the Academy teams before getting his first loan move last summer.
As Neil Adams said in the EDP earlier in the week, Ben could’ve stayed and been around the first team squad. He could’ve got a few substitute appearances and maybe started some cup games but he wouldn’t have been quite ready for a regular starting berth.
The philosophy of Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber is that young players need to play to develop and the loan system is perfect for getting that vital experience before giving them their chance at Norwich.
It looks to me as though Ben is about to be given that chance.
He moved last summer, along with Carlton Morris and Eboue Adams, to a Shrewsbury side expected to struggle by most pundits. As it turned out, they were in the top three for most of the season and narrowly lost out on promotion in the playoff final last Sunday.
Ben Godfrey was a big part of that.
(Then) Shrews boss, Paul Hurst put Ben in front of his back four and used him as a defensive enforcer, an insurance policy for his back four, much like we use Alex Tettey. He made 51 appearances last season and scored 1 goal.
He has an eye for a pass and has boundless energy, in fact I watched him make a 60 yard run into the Rotherham penalty area on Sunday, when all around him were spent. He’s athletic and looked like he had “three lungs” in the playoff final.
Arguably though, his best performances for Shrewsbury came in the FA Cup against West Ham. The biggest compliment you could pay him was that he didn’t look out of place among his Premier League opponents.
With Alex Tettey’s knees creaking and Tom Trybull not having the best injury record, an athletic 20 year old midfielder in that vein could be exactly what the squad needs and you’d assume that he’ll be given every chance to prove it in pre-season.
He got plenty of minutes last summer in front of Daniel Farke and I think I’m right in saying that he was second only to Christoph Zimmermann last pre-season, in the number of minutes he played.
The club tied him to a new four year contract last summer, so the future is looking bright. All you need to do, Ben is to reach out and grab that opportunity.
I think that Remi Matthews and Ben Godfrey are the most likely to be a part of the first team squad next season, with Todd Cantwell just behind. Sadly, Carlton Morris’ ACL injury means that we’ll never get to see if he too could take the chance in pre-season.
For the other three though, it’s looking very good indeed.