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Dean Smith on Josh Sargent’s striker opportunity: “He’s deserved that slot”

Josh Sargent made the most of Teemu Pukki’s absence in Tuesday’s 2-1 EFL Championship victory over Huddersfield Town, but with Pukki and other forwards aiming to get into the mix, the American forward has been challenged by manager Dean Smith to build off of his recent performance.

Sargent scored his first league goal of the season on Tuesday for Norwich City, stepping in for the injured Pukki and delivering a strong outing. The U.S. men’s national team forward netted four goals for the Canaries last season in all competitions, mainly featuring as a winger under both Daniel Farke and Smith.

However, with Pukki’s status for Friday’s league clash with Millwall undetermined, Sargent could return as the lead striker in Smith’s squad, another opportunity to continue at his traditional position. Jordan Hugill and Adam Idah will also be pushing Sargent for minutes during this busy summer schedule for the Canaries, but Smith believes in the 22-year-old American to focus on the new challenge in front of him.

“It’s only one game,” Smith said in his pre-match press conference Thursday. “Sarge knows that and the group do as well. We feel that we have quite a few offensive players here now within the ranks who can create and score goals.

“Josh did himself a lot of favors on Tuesday night, winning plaudits for his performance and rightly so,” Smith added. “He knows that he also has Jordan Hugill pushing him as well as Teemu. I thought he took his chance in pre-season as well as a striker. He has deserved that slot and done well.”

Sargent’s versatility could not only be important for Norwich City during the first half of the league season, but also for the USMNT with September friendlies vastly approaching, and the FIFA World Cup just three months away. The Missouri native has not featured for the USMNT since September, last scoring a goal back in Concacaf Nations League action in November 2019.

With Sargent earning a new opportunity to lead the Norwich City line in Pukki’s absence, the sky is the limit for him to boost his stock for club and country. Friday’s clash with Millwall will be a new test for Sargent and his teammates, but one that they will be eager for after claiming their first win of the 2022-23 campaign.


  1. With a run of form and consistent starts at the 9 I’ll take Sargent over Pefok all day. Way more upside, utility over Pefok who is slow, one dimensional, does not press/fit our system, involve other players, stretch the defense. Pefok is more a desperation bench specialist to sit in the box and lob crosses at needing a goal late. The potential JS has everyone wants to see realized is incapsulated in that second goal v Millwall where Josh muscled 2 defenders off the ball multiple times at midline, ran the field and slotted in a clean finish on the post was- we don’t have another striker in the pool who does that. Athleticism, strength, skill. So the big if??? if he can get himself at all right, keep asserting himself as he has the last 2 games- Josh is kind of the prototype for wha GB wants from his strikers. Now is the time for Sargent to answer those questions for club and country. Unfortunately he’s left it right up to the last minute to insert himself. with a manager in GB who is exceedingly slow to make changes.

  2. Sargent at CF scoring! Who knew?
    I remember, Sarg’s last manager saying he deserved to be on the national team, when he wasn’t scoring. The Canaries sucked, he got fired. Now, this manager doesn’t give Sarg minutes at the 9, when Puuki is healthy. So now, he’s at the 9, scoring and Sargent deserves to be a Nat?, when Smith doesn’t even value him at CF? Seems like managers, who have no clue about the USMNT, keep speaking on the pool. It’s confusing. Sargent is a 9, and isn’t useful in any other position. PERIOD. I want to see CFs scoring. When Sargent, scores every month, for the next 4 months, that will convince me. Sargent scoring 1 or 2 weekends in a whole season, doesn’t merit a call up, especially in a WC year. Glad he’s looking more natural, and playing with joy! I’m very pessimistic. When he’s called in again, GB won’t put in position to do what he’s doing now.

    • And responds with a brace. Nice!! I really hope he keeps it up. At a mommies he will get more playing time even with Pukki back.

  3. I would teeter on the edge of adding him to the World Cup roster just because he does so many things so well. He runs the channels well. His movement is good. His technical skills are there. He presses very well and has boundless energy. He links up with other offensive players very well, and while he’s not Haji Wright or Brandon Vasquez he holds the ball up well. And he knows exactly what Berhalter requires of his forwards; he’d slot right back in. And because he’s played so much winger for Norwich if you bring Sargent you’ve effectively brought an extra striker and an extra winger.

    The difficulty with Sargent, as ever, is that he usually can’t score to save his own life. Even one more goal for Norwich would probably put him on the plane, at least for September.


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