‘It’s a massive learning curve’ – Loan lessons have given Power perspective for City development
Learning from loan spells is becoming an increasingly important stage in the development of Norwich City’s young players and Simon Power is hoping to prove he has done just that.
The winger is in France with Canaries academy team-mate Adam Idah as part of the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad for the prestigious Toulon Tournament.
The high-profile youth event has been running since the 1970s and helped launch the international careers of many top stars, with Player of the Tournament winners including David Ginola, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.
The chance arrives at a perfect time for City's speedy 21-year-old Power, fresh from his first loan experience. The Irishman signed a new contract in January to keep him with Norwich until at least 2021 and then joined Dutch second tier side Dordrecht.
One goal and one assist from 10 games began his experience, with a bright start curtailed by a calf injury in March, denying a first Ireland U21 cap and keeping him out for over a month,
"It was a very good experience, I don't regret going over at all," Power reflected as he prepared to face China in Toulon today (2.30pm UK time). "I was first told by the academy manager back in November that they were sending me over to Holland and I was kind of shocked.
"I thought I'd be sent out somewhere in England, like League Two or somewhere like that maybe, but obviously I'd heard about Todd Cantwell and Savvas Mourgos with their loan spells over in Holland. They did very well, they excelled and stepped up to the plate, so to hear they were going to take the same chance with me was great."
After an initial training spell in December, Power's cause wasn't helped by a change of head coach, who used his contacts to bring in young talent from Feyenoord.
His first start was still rather memorable though, against the youngsters of Dutch giants Ajax.
"I got a goal, hit the post and the man of the match award at the end," he continued. "It was an unbelievable feeling.
"There was a big crowd there and obviously I'm not used to that, then after the game there was a bar area in the stadium where we would go after every game and there would be live music playing.
"Some of the fans get to go up there as well and they have a stage where they invite the man of the match winner and present the award and you say a few words.
"That was a great feeling and it helped me to settle in a lot."
The injury meant that just two of Power's 10 games were starts, as Dordrecht steered clear of relegation, but the former UC Dublin talent tried to absorb as much as he could.
"The main thing I've taken from the whole experience is that it's a massive learning curve," he added. "I've done a lot of reflecting on my time in Holland and I'm happy that I went over and experienced the Dutch way of football and met the guys there.
"So I've definitely learned a lot and I have developed as a player. I did well when I could play but it's just unfortunate I couldn't get more minutes."
With his focus now firmly on international duty before returning to try and impress the coaches at City during pre-season, Power is keen for another loan spell and more senior experience.
"To be honest, I think I would like to go on loan because when I was in Holland I didn't prove myself enough, I didn't get as many minutes as I'd hoped," the youngster continued.
"Of course it would be great if I was up with the first team and training with them but I feel like I need to go out on loan again, get minutes into the legs and go and show I can do it in a lower league, wherever that may be."
Power also played rugby union in his school days, using his speed at full-back, and won a national bronze in the 60-metre sprint as a youngster - but knows he will need more than pace to get close to the first team at Norwich.
"My speed and pace and overall athleticism, that's what I've always had growing up - and obviously I'll continue to work on that and improve," he added.
"But I think, I've noticed with the way Daniel Farke plays, he has wingers on the inside rather than out wide, coming in and being more tricky, doing nice combination plays with the striker or attacking midfielders.
"So also just to develop my end product, whether I'm threading final balls through to the strikers, or crossing the ball.
"These are all things that apply to any winger, but especially with the way that Daniel Farke plays with Emi Buendia or Onel (Hernandez), they're small and tricky, they come in and cause problems for defenders.
"It seems to have worked given that we finished top this season and won the Championship!"
- Toulon Tournament games are being shown live on Free Sports, on Freeview channel 64 and all other satellite and cable TV platforms