After a positive first year at Norwich City, the two that have followed haven't gone to plan for defender Ben Gibson. 

His move to Carrow Road kickstarted his career again after being frozen out at Burnley and offered him the chance to become a key part of a side again. 

Norwich fought hard for his services, even seeing off top-flight competition at the time - believing they were capturing a defender capable of not just helping them to Championship promotion but also able to thrive at Premier League level. 

Few would have doubted that judgement after his initial impact at Norwich - alongside Grant Hanley, he solidified their defence as they romped to their second Championship title in three years. 

Since, however, his journey in Norfolk hasn't followed the same upwards trajectory - it has contained several bumps in the road and disappointments. 

Injuries have plagued his progress at Norwich. Since his serious ankle setback during his first year with the club, Gibson has struggled to recapture the levels he displayed in that title-winning campaign back in 2020/21. 

At that point in time, Gibson was regarded as a key cog in Daniel Farke's possession-based machine - he was one of City's best progressive passers and played an integral role in their work on the ball. 

The Pink Un: Ben Gibson has struggled with injuries and form this season.Ben Gibson has struggled with injuries and form this season. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

After Farke's departure, Gibson's influence has eroded. Dean Smith and David Wagner have both encouraged a more varied playing style with less emphasis on the possession-based approach their predecessor sought. 

In his round of post-season media, sporting director Stuart Webber said Norwich would seek to dominate games with and without that ball. 

That surely spells good news for Gibson - who is a defender most comfortable when playing out from the back. Given Norwich's struggles to progress the ball and carve out good opportunities this season, that is a tool that City would do well to harness. 

Gibson ranks consistently high among City's passing statistics but is not hitting the same heights in that area as in previous years - that is largely down to the style of play changing.  

Despite the discourse around the 30-year-old beginning with passing - it should also include his defensive abilities. 

Gibson isn't a defender blessed with pace, but he is proactive in his approach and is intelligent when it comes to reading situations or anticipating attacking decisions by opponents. 

The problem has come when Gibson is facing pacey strikers or is bypassed - and his role in a Norwich defence that has leaked cheap goals and conceded too frequently. 

Gibson's level of performance hasn't been at the desired level, either. He will know that better than anyone. 

With Hanley set for a prolonged period on the sidelines through injury and Andrew Omobamidele primed for a big-money summer departure, City will need to be able to rely on Gibson next season. 

Wagner values him highly - and he is one of the few Norwich players willing and able to lead both through vocals and actions on the pitch. 

During those dreaded Covid-19 shutout matches, the Teessiders' voice bellowed round Carrow Road as he barked instructions to his teammates and often at the officials in good measure. 

Gibson will form part of City's leadership group next season and there will be an onus on him to lead what could be a youthful looking back four, including Bali Mumba. 

One thing is certain - Gibson knows what it takes to succeed at Championship level. The defender has won two promotions from this level previously and in a summer where Norwich are seeking experience, his presence could prove vital in transforming their fortunes. 

The Pink Un: Ben Gibson has experience of winning Championship promotion.Ben Gibson has experience of winning Championship promotion. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

But key to that will be Gibson's ability to keep himself fit and available throughout the campaign. Throughout his career, he has only played 40-plus matches in one season, which arrived back in 2017/18. 

For the first time since he arrived at Norwich, Gibson will be exposed to a full pre-season, expected to be gruelling under Wagner as he seeks to make Norwich the fittest side in the Championship next season. 

That will hopefully help Gibson become more durable - if he can do that and rediscover his form in the process then everyone in the Championship is acutely aware of the quality of player they have at their disposal. 

Norwich are now hoping Gibson can show that across an entire campaign; if he does then he will be a major player under Wagner next term.