Jarvis hails City’s success as he discusses mental strain of injuries and targets swift return for Walsall
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Matt Jarvis has praised the ‘really impressive’ campaign Norwich City are enjoying, as he targets a swift return from his latest injury setback at Walsall.
The long-term injury victim finally returned to regular action after joining the Saddlers on loan in January, after more than two years of knee and ankle issues at City.
When asked if retirement had been a possibility, Jarvis admitted: “Yeah, there were times. I went to see the specialist about the ankle again and the specialist just said that they had done everything they could do and if it didn’t work I would have to think about retiring.
“It was heart-breaking. Mentally, it was an extremely difficult time. This is all I have ever wanted to do so to be told you might not be able to do it again was devastating.”
The winger has made 10 appearances for League One side Walsall but a fresh ankle knock has seen him miss their last three matches.
The 32-year-old hopes to return for Saturday’s televised home clash with promotion hopefuls Barnsley, as his loan side continue to battle the threat of relegation.
Ahead of that game, Jarvis has spoken highly of his parent club’s fine Championship season – sitting four points clear at the top with eight games remaining – ahead of his contract expiring this summer.
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“I think last season you could see the potential of the team but then a few players left and a few youngsters came in from the academy,” the one-cap international said.
“Some others were signed and nobody really knew how it would go but the manager has got his philosophy and everyone has bought into it. All the new players are playing well.
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“He has got competition for places too which always helps because they are pushing each other. With the style of play and the goals they are scoring they have been really impressive.”
Jarvis joined Norwich on loan from West Ham in August 2015 and scored two goals in seven games, before missing two months with a knee injury. That didn’t stop Alex Neil from signing the former Gillingham attacker for around £2.5million in January 2016.
A further 14 appearances followed as the Canaries slipped to relegation, with a 3-0 loss at Everton on the final day proving to be the final first-team game for the wide man.
“During my time at Norwich I went through that transition of starting to help the youngsters because we had a lot of them in the squad,” he added.
“So I gave them little pointers here and there whether it’s about football or outside of football. I can use my experience to help here too, especially when we’re going through a tough patch. That’s my role now.”
Nine of Jarvis’s appearances for Walsall have been starts, but he admits it hasn’t been easy to rediscover the pace that was such an asset to his game, helping to play 205 games in the Premier League.
“That’s the hardest thing now. I was training for months at Norwich, but games are so different,” he continued, speaking to Sky Sports. “You play differently to how you train and that’s especially the case when you play in a position like mine.
“I am all about short bursts of speed. Short breaks and then going again. But in training you can’t get into the short bursts as much. So it is just getting used to that again.
“Before the game you visualise what you are going to do because you have already done it a thousand times before. You know you can do it, it’s just about concentrating and being positive.”
While also reflecting further on the psychological impact of his injury troubles, as he has done previously, Jarvis also revealed that he hopes to keep playing for a few years yet – as he closes on 400 career appearances and targets reaching 500 before he retires.
“I want to have my son come on the pitch with me,” he concluded. “I want him to watch from the stands and remember me playing.
“He is two-and-a-half now and I am only 32, so I will be playing on for as long as possible. Hopefully, I have got many more years to come.
“I got myself through this. I am just happy to be out the other side.”