Family before football for Canaries’ ace
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City’s players face the same uncertainty as the rest of society before some semblance of normality can return. For captain Grant Hanley there are other distractions, as Paddy Davitt discovered.
Family comes before football for Grant Hanley, but Norwich City’s skipper is determined to pick up where he left off for the Canaries.
Hanley’s partner is six months pregnant, while grandparents up in Scotland are never far from the defender’s thoughts as we all adjust to the need to stay indoors during the global pandemic.
The 28-year-old was emerging as a key figure in the club’s Premier League and FA Cup tilt before the shutdown, after finally getting a run of games following an injury-hit return to the top flight.
“I felt like I was able to do myself justice,” he said.
“I felt I was able to go on the pitch and to give 100pc and to show what I have got and do my very best for the team, which for a while I probably wasn’t able to do.
“I would like to think I am old enough and mature enough to see the bigger picture and I hope that is all those injuries behind me. When we are ready to go then physically I will be as well.
“As players it is important you see that bigger picture. We realise it is not all about football. That goes to the back of your head but we also know we have to tick over and when we are told to play we can be ready for those nine or ten games. Whatever is remaining.
“You can’t be too selfish and think about your own situation and not being able to play football. There are a lot worse situations and things happening at the minute. We remain professional and we have to be ready to go.”
For Hanley there is a welcome distraction.
“If there is a positive it is being able to spend a bit more time with your family,” he said.
“My partner is six months pregnant now and she is probably appreciating having me around because she is starting to get a bit uncomfortable.
“I have a couple of mad dogs as well that keep us busy. We are human beings.
“My main concern is my family being alright. I have elderly grandparents up in Scotland and it is a concern. We’re all in the same boat.”
City last kicked a ball at Sheffield United on March 7. When they do return it may feel like a pre-season scenario and starting over again, given the scale of the potential lay-off.
“Very much so. It’s a difficult one because you need to try and gauge how much or how little to do,” said the former Blackburn powerhouse. “We’ll probably have to fast track things back to match sharpness. There is only so much you can do to make sure you are mentally and physically ready to go.
“It’s a strange one. I liken it to being in pre-season, where you can do as much running as you want but nothing can prepare you for that first 10 minutes of a game when you are breathing out of your backside.
“We have plenty of stuff to do in terms of fitness programmes.
“We had some static bikes delivered to the lads early on so we are able to do work inside the house. It is about getting into a routine.
“I like to get up early, get some of my programme done first thing. You always feel better to start the day with some exercise and I will continue to try and tick over before we get the green light to go ahead.
“Being in the Premier League I want to play as many times as I can at this level. It has been a tough season for us, no doubt, but we felt we had a good result against Leicester, a cup result at Tottenham and although we lost at Sheffield United we felt there was a bit of momentum to push on.”