PROFILE: Fresh start awaits Idah after roller-coaster year
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd
An enforced break may just benefit Adam Idah in the long run, as the Norwich City striker's roller-coaster 2020 comes to an end with a new contract signed and a return to fitness close.
Suspension and injury have kept the 19-year-old out of action since October but extending terms until 2024 means the Irish youngster can look forward to a fresh start in the new year.
After joining the Canaries as a 16-year-old, he sped through the academy ranks to make his debut at 18, in August 2019, following promotion to the senior squad alongside a new contract until 2023 that summer.
It proved a forgettable occasion though, scoring an unfortunate own goal during a shock 1-0 loss away to League Two side Crawley Town in the League Cup.
He had to wait until January for his next chances, making a brief Premier League debut during a 1-1 home draw with Crystal Palace on New Year's Day. With Josip Drmic still injured and Teemu Pukki in need of a rest, his big opportunity came at Deepdale - and it was one he grasped with both hands.
His hat-trick entered the record books, edging ahead of Craig Bellamy and Justin Fashanu as the youngest player ever to manage a treble for the Canaries, making national headlines in England and Ireland.
With Pukki out injured, the following weekend brought a first top-flight start, at Old Trafford. It proved another difficult day though, having little chance to impress during a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United.
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The remainder of the season mostly brought bright cameo appearances but a league goal would continue to evade him. He showed his confidence before the season disappeared into lockdown in March though, with an audacious top-corner penalty during the shoot-out win at Tottenham in the FA Cup fifth round.
The pain of Premier League relegation would mean more chances though and Idah started the new season well - very well, in fact, coming on to score the late winner at Huddersfield in the first game.
Idah's pace and power were making him a regular - only for an unnecessary red card for an angry reaction to a tackle during the closing stages of a home win over Wycombe to prove costly, bringing a three-game ban.
That's the last City fans have seen of Idah this season, in late October, thanks to an injury on international duty.
Having played a major role in Stephen Kenny's success at U21 level, when his international boss was promoted to the senior set-up, so was Idah.
With his balance of physicality, speed and an eye for goal, Kenny sees Idah as an ideal lone striker. His first five caps have proved hard work though, being dropped in at the deep end with starts against England, Wales, Finland and Bulgaria.
So after returning from the international break with a knee injury, the teen has had a chance to draw breath and analyse his progress so far.
With a new contract signed and sealed, and his return to action in January closing in, the talented Irishman will no doubt be straining at the leash for the chance to show how much he has learned during his hectic 2020.