Lockdown life has been ‘very weird’ for City defender during injury recovery
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Sam Byram’s lockdown life has been rather different to that of most players, having often found himself as one of the few people at Norwich City’s training ground during recent weeks.
Sam Byram’s lockdown life has been rather different to that of most players, having often found himself as one of the few people at Norwich City’s training ground during the last six weeks.
While the whole football world was brought to a standstill when the season was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus, Byram had already seen his campaign brought to an end a month earlier, during City’s narrow 1-0 loss to runaway leaders Liverpool.
The full-back pulled up after just 27 minutes when a nasty hamstring injury left him needing to be helped off the pitch - and eventually to surgery which head coach Daniel Farke had expected to bring a four-month absence.
Yet with the season on hold with the Canaries still having nine games to play, Byram is now back outside and running on the pitches at the Lotus Training Centre at Colney, and could even be in contention if the Premier League is able to secure the health assurances to resume next month.
“Being a night match, the pitch was quite wet and I think it bounced and shot off a bit quicker than I expected,” Byram explained, of the moment he received a throw from goalkeeper Tim Krul.
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“It was quite an innocuous movement that I would have done hundreds of times before but at that time, for whatever reason, I just over-stretched with my opposite leg and straight away I felt a sort of popping sensation, I knew it wasn’t good.
“It’s very hard to describe but if I was to describe it, it would be like that feeling of being stabbed or being punched in the leg, it was very strange.”
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Byram’s career had been hampered by injuries since joining West Ham from Leeds in January 2016, in a deal reportedly worth in excess of £3million after a bright start to his career, making 136 Championship appearances for his hometown club.
He saw a loan move to Nottingham Forest ruined by a serious knee injury during 2018-19, leading to him joining City for just £750,000 last summer but taking his chance at left-back when Jamal Lewis was injured, starting 13 of the last 14 league games before his injury.
So while football’s hiatus may end up allowing him an unexpected chance to return to action this season, it hasn’t been the easiest of rehabilitations from his hamstring surgery.
“It is very weird, turning up to the training ground and there being one other car in the car park and one other person in the entire building, it’s very strange compared to normal circumstances,” he explained.
“But it’s given me something to do and I’m very grateful to them for keeping it open because they didn’t need to, a lot of training grounds have been shut, but it’s sort of making the best out of a bad situation.”
Clubs were allowed to begin some training again this month, but under strict social distancing guidelines, with limited numbers and players having to arrive and leave in their kit as changing and food facilities are not yet allowed.
Byram continued: “For most of it I’ve done a lot at the training ground but there have been times where I’ve had to do things at home, and the hands-on actual treatment side of it from the physios, with the rules, there’s been none of that available.
“With surgery, with my injury, you could really do with the physio being able to do some work on it and treatment, but I’ve just had to get on with it because there’s nothing I can do about it.”
The 26-year-old’s parents are both self-isolating at their home in Yorkshire so he’s been restricted, like so many of us, to video calls. He has so far resisted the urge to shave his hair off like some of his team-mates but is not yet taking the option off the table, after an attempt to keep things tidy with a trimmer.
But aside from continuing to learn how to play the keyboard, reading books and watching TV, his rehab has provided a focus and distraction during these testing times of social isolation.
Having endured spells on the sidelines due to injury previously however, Byram has felt like he’s had the mental strength to cope with the situation as he - like everyone connected to the game - longs for football to return, once it’s safe to resume.
“I kind of know what to expect, going off previous experience,” he concluded. “I think, it’s not nice to say because obviously the virus and everything is an awful event, but coming when it has meant I could focus my attention on my rehab and not have football in the background 24/7.
“So on a personal note it’s kind of giving me something to focus on, to concentrate on, to tick my targets off and then if I can get back then it’s obviously a huge bonus for me personally.”
- For all the latest City news and views on Project Restart, listen to this week’s edition of the Pink Un Podcast above, with Canaries legend Darren Eadie a special guest.