Leeds fear return of hometown hero Jonny Howson

Morley-born midfielder Jonny Howson returns to Elland Road for the first time since his move to Norwich in 2012, and Leeds will be fearful of their ex-hero.

Tuesday night sees Howson return to Leeds for a crucial fixture in the promotion race, and a meeting that is sure to have a spark as Giuseppe Bellusci and Cameron Jerome potentially come face-to-face for the first time since the Norwich striker made an allegation of racist abuse in the previous meeting at Carrow Road in October.

The January 2012 transfer of Howson to Norwich caused controversy at the Yorkshire club as an already embittered fanbase saw another star name depart, albeit to a then Premier League club.

Having been promoted to club captain, Howson had been in top form in the 2010-11 season, scoring 11 of the 25 goals in total he recorded in a white shirt. But despite Howson being absent from the first team with an injury at the time, chairman Ken Bates accepted a bid from Norwich, and he joined his fellow ex-Leeds colleague Bradley Johnson, who had moved to East Anglia the previous summer.

It was a bitter blow for then manager Simon Grayson, but it got worse for Leeds fans as star winger Robert Snodgrass and then top scorer Luciano Becchio also took the well-trodden path down to Carrow Road within the following 12 months.

Snodgrass has since moved on to Hull City and Becchio has barely featured in the Norwich first team, but Johnson and Howson have become established stars, and both have been regular goal-scoring midfielders as Alex Neil's men have torn up the Sky Bet Championship with a stunning run of 11 wins from 14 games.

26-year-old Howson has weighed in with seven goals this season and Johnson has been even more prolific with 13, so Leeds will be fearful of their ex-favourites returning to Elland Road on Tuesday evening, for the first time since their twin departures. 

Howson did feature in the starting line-up for the 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in October, while Johnson was an unused sub. But neither has played at Elland Road since leaving Leeds, and it will be Howson in particular who will have the attention of the fans of his boyhood club.

Having made over 200 appearances after graduating from Leeds' academy system and making his debut in 2006, it will be a strange experience for Howson and an uncomfortable one for the Leeds faithful, who have seen a string of crowd favourites depart in the last decade and are fearful of their current crop of youngsters heading the same way in the summer.

Tuesday night could be a painful reminder of what might have been for Leeds, as they flounder in exactly the same mid-table position from which Howson left them over three years ago. For his part, Howson will be gunning for more goals from midfield which could fire his team back in to the Premier League at the first attempt.

If anybody in power at Elland Road is watching on Tuesday night, they would be wise to make a note of what holding on to young talent can achieve.

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