City star beaming at his return to action – but doesn’t get his second game in a weekend
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Pritchard is back for Norwich City’s first team after his late cameo in Saturday’s draw with Preston – but that didn’t stop him wanting to turn out for the Canaries’ Under-23 side just 24 hours later.
Pritchard had been out since an ankle injury early in pre-season but made his long-awaited comeback on Saturday afternoon, coming on with 14 minutes still to play of Alex Neil’s Carrow Road return.
Another 15 minutes of injury time helped Pritchard get even more out of his comeback – but shortly after his appearance was done, the 24-year-old was already looking ahead to Sunday’s development fixture with Aston Villa on the same pitch.
In the end a sore neck seemed to put City’s coaching staff off risking Pritchard with more action for the Under-23s. But it still proved a productive and important weekend for one of City’s key personnel.
“I know in myself, I’m old enough and wise enough to know how my body is going to take it – so I’ll play tomorrow for the Under-23s and hopefully get 60 minutes under my belt, and then I’m ready to go,” said Pritchard on Saturday night.
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“When the manager spoke to me on Friday, he said if you’re needed then you will come on but if you’re not then I’m not going to risk you. But I was ready if he wanted me, so he brought me on and I tried all I could.
“Obviously it’s been a long road back and it’s going to take a while, but hopefully this will be it now for me with injuries.
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“The fans are good to me and hopefully I can bring back some fight and some passion in the team.”
Pritchard admitted he was champing at the bit to get back involved – something that happened earlier than many expected, including City’s own head coach Daniel Farke.
“Yes, but you can’t rush these things though,” Pritchard added. “If you go in too quick and you try too much, you could have a setback. So I need to bide my time, but I also need to play football.”
Pritchard chuckled before declining to comment over whether he was actually any good at being so patient.
While the forward’s return was good news, City’s winless run extended to six league games.
“I think that comes with any team in the world,” he added. “You get runs like that and ups and downs, and you’ve just got to get out of them and get back to where we were.
“Obviously I’ve been there with the boys talking to them the whole season but just watching it from the sidelines, from the stadium and the TV, it’s not the best. I don’t really like it.
“It’s been up and down. The boys know that. We went through a period of really good wins and away wins. We’re in a little bit of a hole now but we’ve got to get together and get out of it.”
The additional first-team minutes will have been welcomed – although the circumstances of an injured assistant referee and a now-famous fourth official replacement in David ‘Spud’ Thornhill at Carrow Road were not ideal.
“I couldn’t feel my toes at one point and you see the linesman limping off with a bad groin, you start to think ‘here we go’,” smiled Pritchard.
“And then with 10 minutes added on, you just don’t need it. I started thinking about my muscles myself!
“It was stop start, stop start, and it was freezing so we had to keep on the move. It wasn’t going to get called off. We just had 10 minutes to go and we had to give everything. It just wasn’t enough.”
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