David Wagner is hoping to balance Ben Gibson’s footballing qualities with defensive fundamentals as he continues in his bid to make Norwich City an uncomfortable opponent.

The experienced defender has often been praised for his ball-playing qualities, but Wagner has been striving to ensure that there is a willingness and capability to do the defensive basics to accompany them.

In that regard, Gibson’s performance against Stoke and the way he handled Brazilian striker Wesley was viewed as a step forward by City's boss. 

Wagner was gushing about his contribution and has challenged the 30-year-old defender to maintain this level of performance moving through the Championship season – starting on Wednesday against Leicester City.

“Gibbo was outstanding. Since I’ve been here, this was his best performance by miles,” City’s head coach said. “He looked like a defender who plays football and not a footballer who plays as a defender. This was top. I said this to him after the game that this is exactly how it should be.

“This is the benchmark and he has shown it against a very good striker – Wesley is a Brazilian international.

“I’m excited to see how he further improves. He is a good age, not the youngest, but I have seen that there is a lot of space for improvement.”

Wagner also provided an update on club captain Grant Hanley, who has been missing since Easter with a serious Achilles injury.

The Scottish international remains some way from a full training return, but Wagner is pleased with his progress and impact on the group despite being sidelined.

“We don’t give a clear timeline and this makes no sense with this type of injury where the timeframe is very long.

The Pink Un: Norwich City club captain Grant Hanley is continuing his recovery from an ankle injury. Norwich City club captain Grant Hanley is continuing his recovery from an ankle injury. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

“What I can say is that he’s done great so far and is full of energy,” Wagner said at Monday’s press conference.

“I have the feeling he is ahead of schedule and this is what I have been told as well. This is great. He is desperate to be back in team training.

“He is still around the team. He can still influence them even if he can’t support on the grass. This is exactly what he craves and that work will continue. We will look forward to when he gets back to training again.”