Jens is raring to go
Chris Lakey Jens Berthel Askou has had plenty of reason to celebrate in recent weeks - and is now looking forward to re-establishing himself in the Canaries line-up.
Jens Berthel Askou has had plenty of reason to celebrate in recent weeks - and is now looking forward to re-establishing himself in the Canaries line-up.
Askou missed virtually the second half of the title-winning season after suffering an injury at Yeovil in December, and eyebrows were raised when the Dane missed City's pre-season tour to Germany - especially given the arrival of Elliott Ward and the anticipated introduction of Zak Whitbread to the fray.
But the 28-year-old had good reason to be absent, having returned to Denmark to be with wife Rikke, who gave birth to their third child, Augusta.
“It happened on the Friday evening, it was pretty rapid,” explained Askou. “She was due on Friday the 16th so I went home the day before that, because she had a lot of twinges and we thought it would happen and we agreed we might as well stay there until it happened.
“It happened a week later, so she was a bit overdue.
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“It was not perfect, not the ideal situation, but I was happy I was there and I am glad to be back.”
Wife Rikke and son Julius, 4, and Cornelius, 2, are still in Denmark but the family is expected to be reunited soon.
“She is in Denmark now and she is coming over as soon as possible once she gets her passport fixed and checked that everything's okay, so that's good,” Askou added.
Askou flew back to Denmark two days before City headed to Germany - and didn't return until 10 days later, missing the games at Stevenage and Dagenham and the home win over Newcastle last weekend. He made his reappearance in City colours at Lincoln on Wednesday, playing the full 90 minutes - but admits he is playing catch-up.
“I have been in Denmark for 10 days in the middle of pre-season, it is not an ideal situation, but I am happy I was there,” he said. “It was a big moment when it happened and I was really excited to come back and get back in training. I played 90 minutes at Lincoln and the body is a bit tired, but it feels good to be back in training and play the game.
“My body needs to catch up again. I was pretty fit before I went back to Denmark. I did a lot over the summer so it is not a big shock for me, but being out of pre-season training for 10 days you can feel it. I will catch up soon.”
As well as the fitness issue there is the not inconsiderable obstacle of competition - with Ward, Whitbread and Michael Nelson also laying claim to one of the central defensive berths.
“It has been a long wait for me trying to get back in the team and I am still fighting for it,” he said. “I know I am maybe not the first one in line to play. The manager has brought in quality players and there are several who can play the position - I am just really, really pleased to be back now, back in training, and we will see what happens.
“I am ready if he needs me. I can't wait to get started. It is going to be a long and exciting season for everybody, me as well. It's a good challenge for me as well to play in the Championship so I can't wait.”