James Maddison: Norwich City midfielder wins EFL Young Player of the Month award

By James LawBBC Sport
James Maddison shows off his EFL Young Player of the Month trophy
James Maddison is eligible to represent England Under-21s at next year's European Championships

"If you want to become a successful player, you've got to chip in with big goals in the important games - that's what you get judged on."

Norwich City's attacking midfielder James Maddison certainly has a healthy knack of popping up when it counts and has the awards that come with it.

The 21-year-old has already won the club's player of the month award on four occasions this season, to go with his two Championship goal of the month prizes, and he has now belatedly been named the EFL Young Player of the Month for January.

"I don't think you can ever get bored of winning awards," he told BBC Sport.

"It's recognition - it's nice to get awards to show how well I've been doing and how the team did in January as well."

A winning goal away at East Anglian rivals Ipswich in October has been typical of Maddison's impact this season, as just one of five match-winning contributions.

'Tough love' from Farke

Daniel Farke (left) and James Maddison in discussion
Maddison (right) has forged a close relationship with head coach Daniel Farke

Last season, under former Canaries boss Alex Neil, Maddison was sent on loan to Aberdeen and made only three league appearances back in Norfolk in the final weeks of the season.

The contrast under German head coach Daniel Farke could hardly be more different, with the playmaker scoring 10 goals in 38 appearances, but the ex-Coventry man says he has still had a "kick up the backside" from his boss.

"He's been really good for me since he came in - he's the one that gave me my opportunity," Maddison said.

"It's almost a bit of tough love. With young players I don't think he generally likes to praise them as much, because he likes to keep our feet on the ground."

Despite Maddison's best efforts, which include six assists in the league, Norwich find themselves 14th in the Championship table and 10 points from the play-offs with 11 games to play.

Goals have been the issue, with only 34 in 35 Championship matches, but their talisman believes it is not through the want of trying.

"We haven't scored enough goals," added Maddison. "We're trying to work on it, we're trying to fix it, and sometimes it just doesn't happen.

"It's definitely a transition period, that's no secret to anyone. There was a change in structure of the club - we've had a lot of new players and there was a big turnover in the summer so I think it is going to take time."

Maddison on Premier League suitors

James Maddison raises his arm to the Norwich fans
Four of Maddison's five Championship winners have come on the road

Multiple awards and an England Under-21 debut, which came in November, inevitably brings interest from top clubs. Tottenham were among those rumoured to be monitoring Maddison in January.

But three decisive goals and two notable FA Cup performances against Chelsea during the transfer window proved that any talk did not go to his head.

"That's the level that everyone aspires to get to," he said. "Every young player will tell you his dream is to play in the Premier League and for me it's no different, but I've just got to take a step back.

"It's my first season [with Norwich] and I'd say I've had a good season - it could've been better but I've played a lot of games and showed everyone what I can do and what I'm about."

In November Norwich chairman Ed Balls said a failure to gain promotion this season would leave them with a £30m shortfall, with the subsequent sale of Alex Pritchard to Huddersfield going some way to balancing the books at Carrow Road.

However, Maddison is in no rush to leave the club that has helped establish him in the second tier.

"I'm keeping my own feet on the ground and hopefully I'll get to where I need to be whenever I'm supposed to," he continued.

"Norwich is a great club for me at the minute. I love it here, I love living here, I love the fans and the fans have taken to me.

"You do see people maybe take that step too early, so I didn't move anywhere in January, but I'm happy here. I'm playing games and I'm loving my football at the minute."

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