Teenager Adam Idah is targeting more Premier League action after his hat-trick fired Norwich into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
A 4-2 win over Preston at Deepdale saw Norwich clear the first hurdle in this competition for the first time since 2013 but of more significance could be the emergence of a homegrown goalscorer as they continue to battle the drop.
Idah, on only his second Norwich start after making his Premier League debut as a substitute on New Year’s Day, belied his lack of experience with a well-taken hat-trick, having also played a role in Onel Hernandez’s strike.
“It’s a great start to the year for me, I’m over the moon to get a hat-trick,” Idah said. “Even to start the game was unbelievable.”
Idah opened the scoring inside 84 seconds, saw a shot parried before Hernandez made it 2-0 in the 28th minute, and had Norwich 3-0 up before the break as he fired into an open goal from distance.
After Billy Bodin pulled one back for Preston, Idah completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after being felled by goalkeeper Connor Ripley, with Josh Harrop completing the scoring late on.
Idah added: “To get an early goal was unbelievable, it brings up my confidence and then to get another two goals was great for me.
“I think Todd Cantwell was put on penalties but to be fair Todd let me take it.”
Norwich’s priorities lay elsewhere with the club still bottom of the Premier League, some seven points from safety.
With Teemu Pukki an injury doubt and Manchester United up next, Idah is hoping to have made a case for more involvement.
“That’s what I’m working towards and if I get more opportunities I’ll take them,” he said.
Manager Daniel Farke did not rule out including Idah at Old Trafford next week, but said the youngster still has much work to do to improve.
“A few months ago, in his only other start at Crawley, it was not his best day and he looked so far away from Premier League football,” he said.
“But we support him and tonight was a top-class performance. But we have not won the Premier League title tonight – it was an away game in the third round of the FA Cup against a difficult side but also a Championship side with several changes.
“Adam has a lot to prove but without any doubt this was definitely a good start.”
There was no VAR at Deepdale for this match, but even in its absence the technology managed to be a talking point, with Preston boss Alex Neil complaining of offsides in the build-up to Norwich’s second goal and the incident that led to the penalty.
“I’ve seen them back and they’re offside,” Neil said. “The issue we’ve got now is that Premier League referees and linesmen don’t make decisions anymore. They’ve got VAR to fall back on, but not today.
“That’s cost us goals because they’re both poor decisions.”
If Farke’s motivation for making sweeping changes was obvious, Neil had reason to rotate too with his side chasing a play-off place, but said the bigger issue was fatigue at the end of the busy festive period.
“If people want the FA Cup to be treated with the respect it deserves, don’t put it at the end of four or five games in 12 days,” he said.
“We don’t have resources and the squad to be able to put our players out every few days. A lot of the players are knackered and a couple are ill.”