Josh Martin looked to be ahead of the curve when he burst onto the scene at Norwich City. Now he is playing catch up.

Before any City supporter had heard of Jonathan Rowe, or maybe even Andrew Omobamidele, Martin was the leading light to emerge from the club’s academy.

By this stage of the last Premier League season, under Daniel Farke, he was a regular part of the senior training pool. Towards the end of that ill-fated ‘Project Restart’ period he was making the first of five top flight appearances.

The 20-year-old should have flourished the following Championship season. But by his own admission he failed to grasp his opportunity.

Since when the footballing plates have shifted. Farke has moved on, he has had a bumpy loan spell at MK Dons, and now finds himself scrapping at the wrong end of League One at Doncaster.

But the technically gifted attacker sees a spell away from the glitz and glamour of the Premier League as a springboard to return to Norwich a viable option for Dean Smith.

“I haven't been able to show myself in front of Dean Smith. If I am given that opportunity I want to take it,” he says. “If you can impress then there is a massive opportunity for the new season. That's obviously the plan. I think Jonno (Jonathan Rowe) has done really well since he's come in as well. He's earned his place to be in the team.

"That tells me as a young player that under a coach like Dean Smith you can get an opportunity and then it is up to you to take it.

“It was very sad, for me, to see Daniel go because obviously he gave me my debut, and he taught me a lot along the way. But it's football. As much as it's hard to see you have to just kind of get on with it and focus on your career.”

Martin, who is under contract until 2023, feels City fans have only seen a glimpse of his potential.

“It was good to make my debut at such a young age and get some minutes in the Premier League. But in terms of the Championship last year I think it could have gone on for longer, if I had stepped up to the next level in my game,” he says. “I felt there was an opportunity to stay in the team for longer, but football is football and especially when you are at a club fighting for the league, and which has a lot of quality in the squad, you have one bad game, and that's it.

"You can be out and the next person comes in. That's how football works.

“When I was a little bit younger, less mature as a player and as a person, you don't understand the demands of top level football. Once you get used to that you realise it's a fight for everything. So far at Norwich it has been good, but it could have been better.”

That self-awareness is why Martin embraced the chance to get his season going at struggling Doncaster in January.

“This is a really good experience for me. I haven't actually had that experience where I can play 10 or 15 games consistently in a row. I'm really enjoying it,” he says, speaking from Doncaster's training base. “Just playing at a senior level brings that pressure, but playing at the bottom of the league and fighting for survival brings even more pressure added on top of that.

"And then, obviously, as an individual you're fighting for your place back at Norwich next season as well. So you've got lots of pressures, but the more you play you learn to deal with it and then you just become used to it. It's football, you go out to win and try your best.

“You get less time on the ball, and there's a lot more running going on, but it's a bit more of a physical game. In the Premier League it is more tactical and about the challenge of trying to break teams down, whereas at this level teams will get after you and you have to be physically strong. I think that's a part of my game that needed development, and I feel like it has improved.

"I still have to improve in that area but playing week in week out it's obviously helping me get to a level where you know, at the end of the season, I aim to be a level or two above where I was at the start. But my goal is to do everything I can to help Doncaster stay in this league.”

In Doncaster manager, Gary McSheffrey, the City youngster has encountered something of a kindred spirit. McSheffrey was a dangerous customer with the ball at his feet for hometown club Coventry City, and later Birmingham after a £4m move across the Midlands.

“We played in the same position, or similar positions, so he knows the position better than I do and he gives me little tricks and stuff like that on what to do,” says Martin. “He does that quite a lot. He wants me to shoot a lot more, so I feel like that's been added into my game, where I'll be dribbling and try to get shots off earlier than I might have done.

"He's very helpful in that way towards me. He has really helped me positionally, both in a defensive and an attacking sense, and that has made my life a lot easier to go on the pitch and perform.”

Martin can also count on the support network at his parent club, headed by loans’ manager Andrew Hughes, and before him Neil Adams. A safety net he used after a bruising spell earlier this season at MK Dons.

Recruited by former City stalwart and namesake, Russell Martin, the ex-Arsenal academy prospect found himself on the outside after Martin’s departure for Swansea.

“Looking back it was one of the toughest parts of my career mentally, but I feel like what I took from that has helped me to be able to come to Doncaster and push on and really go for it and show people what I'm capable of,” he says. “It was the first time as a senior player a manager's left and someone else came in.

"It was unusual, in that sense, but it wasn't really one of those things where I looked at it negatively. I was more like, ‘Okay, well this is another opportunity for whoever comes in to make a good impression.’ It didn’t quite work out that way.

“The transition from Neil to Andy has been pretty smooth. I had a call from Andy, he introduced himself, and I would consider Andy and I to be pretty close, in the sense we talk a lot. It's very easy having a loans’ manager that you can talk to at any given moment.

"That helps you a lot. He doesn't live too far from here so we've met a couple times, and I guess it's nice to have that relationship.

“Whether it's Andy Hughes or Stuart Webber watching the game, or whoever it is watching, it's always nice to have that because you know they're looking at you and you are still part of it. It's a nice feeling to have.”

Watch an exclusive video interview with Josh only for Pink Un+ subscribers from 7pm on Tuesday