David Freezer: Cruel injuries pose test of mental strength for talented Canaries duo
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Football can be a cruel game at times. Just as Bali Mumba’s big opportunity arrived at Norwich City, it’s been snatched away from him.
It’s not just the promising full-back either, with fellow 19-year-old prospect Adam Idah joining him in the treatment room until around February because of a knee ligament strain, after a very challenging spell of international action.
Injuries are one of the most frustrating elements of sport - just ask poor old Louis Thompson, who’s again facing a few months on the sidelines, with a hamstring problem the latest issue to disrupt his MK Dons loan.
Idah has been around the City squad since the start of last season thanks to his prolific exploits at academy level and has experienced a few ups and downs along the way already.
From an own goal during a forgettable debut at Crawley, to becoming the Canaries’ youngest ever hat-trick scorer as he impressed at Preston in the FA Cup, then a first Premier League start coming during a disappointing 4-0 defeat at Manchester United.
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He scored a peach of a penalty in the shoot-out win at Tottenham in the FA Cup, was on the fringes as Premier League relegation was confirmed, came off the bench to score the winner at Huddersfield on the opening day of this season and picked up a three-game ban for a petulant red card against Wycombe. It’s been eventful, to say the least.
Idah’s physical pace and power, mixed with a ruthless instinct in front of goal, saw the Republic of Ireland fast-track him into the senior squad, yet after failing to score in five appearances as the Stephen Kenny era struggles to get off the ground, the teen found his Ireland boss having to stick up for him after some harsh criticism.
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These are the trials and tribulations that so often separate good players from those at the top level. Those that are able to retain the mental strength to deal with disappointment and continue producing their best ability consistently are the players that go on to be successful - if injuries don’t become insurmountable.
Now Idah will have a bit of time to assess his progress, to feel sorry for himself for a short while and then gather his energy for the challenge of getting back to front line duty once his body has heeled.
As he does his rehabilitation alongside Mumba, the summer signing will be feeling angry as well. From taking his first senior steps during Sunderland’s slide to League One, to being on loan at step three of non-league with South Shields earlier this year, he was back on the way up.
His game-changing impact against Swansea as a substitute left-back ahead of the international break was sensational. To have that taken away from him by his studs getting caught in the Colney turf as he twisted is truly a cruel blow.
With Xavi Quintilla still not quite over his hip issue and Sam Byram not back until January, Jacob Sorensen is going to have to dig even deeper as emergency cover.
Sam McCallum will surely be recalled from Coventry in January now, unless Quintilla can find fitness quickly to ease concerns during the hectic spell of 12 games in six weeks which kicks off at the Riverside.
To finish on a personal note, I’m having to cover today’s game from home as the current regulations allow only one of our team to be at the Riverside, bringing an end to a run of having been at all of City’s last 39 games.
In fact I’ve missed only one of the last 85, so I’ll be joining the many frustrated spectators watching via the iFollow stream at home this afternoon.
For various reasons I’m probably going to watch four of the next five games from home, so it’s going to be a strange experience after covering every twist and turn of the Canaries’ rise to the Premier League and slump back to the Championship.
After finally hearing some encouraging news about Covid-19 vaccines in recent weeks, I sincerely hope that as I start building my next sequence of uninterrupted action, that at least some supporters will be back in the stands soon as we all try to edge back towards normality.