Martin on his Arsenal education, international hopes and feeling the love at Norwich City
Adam Davy/PA Wire
After signing a new contract with Norwich City, young winger Josh Martin spoke to David Freezer about his football journey so far and his ambitions for the future ahead of the Premier League’s return next month.
With his future prospects secured, Josh Martin is ambitious and hungry to start making an impact at first-team level for Norwich City.
The 18-year-old winger forced his way to the front of the academy pack in December and January with an FA Youth Cup hat-trick and three goals in five games for the under-23s, two of which were spectacular long-range strikes.
That earned training time with the senior squad and a place on the bench at Burnley in the FA Cup - and now a contract extension until 2023, with praise from head coach Daniel Farke ringing in his ears.
“He spoke to me a couple of days ago and said he was really happy that I’d signed the new contract,” Martin said of Farke after signing his new deal.
“There was a little bit of a delay but the boss wanted it done, Stuart (Webber) wanted it done, everyone did and we made it happen, so I was over the moon really.
“To me it just proves really that Norwich is a good place for me, they want me to be there and that’s all a player can ask for really, for a club to show love to that player, it goes a long way and they thrive off it. I’m very excited and thankful to the boss as well.”
It was only in March of last year that the tricky forward joined after a successful trial, following the end of his long association with Arsenal.
He added: “It’s kind of like a pressure taken off me because I feel like now is time to kick forward and go, I don’t need to worry about the contract any more.
“It’s just focussing on football, getting into the starting XI in the first team and try my best to stay in the league, because we’re going back to the games now and we have to fight. I’m just looking forward to that.”
Martin had been on the books at Arsenal since he was eight years old, being coached by Gunners legend Freddie Ljungberg at under-15 level and playing in the same age group as Bukayo Saka throughout, who has made the senior breakthrough this season, becoming the first choice left-back.
“I heard Norwich were interested in a trial and, I loved it at Arsenal, but it was maybe time for me to move on with my career,” he explained.
“I said that to the academy manager down there and he wasn’t sure to start with but agreed, came up, impressed, tried my best and it worked. So obviously I was really happy because I wanted to make that move.”
Saka is tipped to join Canaries stars Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell in the England U21 set-up soon but international recognition is yet to arrive for Martin - who has options.
“I was in a training camp once but not anything recently,” he said of his England youth hopes.
“I’m not 100 percent sure but Republic of Ireland, Portugal I think and England. (Portugal) is on my dad’s side, I’d have to speak to him about that.
“One-hundred percent international is something I look towards and is something I really want to do but it’s not something that plays on my mind too much.
“For me it’s just play as well as I can at the club and I’m sure if I’m doing well in the first team then I’ll get some international recognition.”
With the Premier League likely to follow Germany’s lead in allowing nine substitutes to be named and five changes to be made, the chances of appearances for youngsters like Martin and Adam Idah look to be raised ahead of action returning on June 17.
City sit six points from safety with nine games to play and also have a home FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United, with the Luton-born youngster putting no limits on what he thinks is possible when the season resumes.
“No one expects us to be able to bounce back and that’s the beauty of it for us,” he added confidently. “If we come back mentally strong, physically I think we’ll be up there with anyone, and I think we are a very good team.
“If we come back with right mindset I think we can do wonders, I think we can do well – I think we can win the FA Cup and stay in the Premier League!
“That’s the ultimate goals for the season, to try to win the cup and to stay in the league.”
Sadly all in English football are preparing for games without spectators and while that is inevitably disappointing, Martin is looking at it as positively as he can, having watched the Bundesliga games.
“It’s like an under-23s game but better quality,” he said of the empty stands. “Football is football though, it’s still being watched by millions and millions of people worldwide on TV.
“So for me it’s just go and win the game, there’s no difference, don’t take a different approach.”