Audio: Mixed emotions for James Vaughan on return to Norwich City duty
James Vaughan's first team return provided Saturday's major bright spot – but even the striker wished it had not been accompanied by Norwich City's tame FA Cup exit to Leicester City.
Out for five months with a knee injury, Vaughan's 62nd-minute introduction was not enough to prevent the Championship outfit enjoying a sweet fifth round win at Carrow Road thanks to David Nugent's winner nine minutes later.
A �1.5m summer signing from Everton, Vaughan missed the opening month of the campaign with a pre-season knock before picking up a second knee injury in the home win over September at the end of September.
But the forward – who endured injury woes at Goodison Park – was clearly glad to be back up and running at the weekend, albeit in a rare misfiring performance for City.
'Obviously on a personal point it was good to be back, but unfortunately today we were all after the same target and that's to get through to the next round and it didn't happen, so I'm gutted like everyone else in the team,' said Vaughan.
'It's been probably one of the toughest times in my career. I mean, being out and coming in and watching the lads train every day, never mind play, was very tough.
'I had a full season last year injury-free (on loan) at Crystal Palace, barely missed a day's training if any, so I thought it was all behind me.
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'You have got to work hard and the goal is to be out there back on the pitch with your team-mates. Obviously today it came – but I would have preferred for it to have been under better circumstances.
'But I've been working hard for a good few weeks in training now and thankfully I got on the pitch. Reserve team football and first team football are completely different ball games but hopefully with a few more minutes on the pitch I can start showing what I can do.
'I will get sharper and sharper hopefully with a few more games. There are a good few games left in the season and I just want to help the team out as much as I can.
'Everyone knows our main goal is to secure our Premier League status. Once we have done that I'm sure we will be looking to push on at another goal. For me it's now a case of kicking on and helping the team get to the next level.
'The coaching staff and the fans, everyone around the place has shown me a lot of support and now I just want to work as hard as I can to repay that support they have shown me.'
Vaughan denied the Canaries underestimated Leicester at the weekend or that they unduly missed the presence of captain Grant Holt – but the striker admitted he was none the wiser over the reasons for City's off day.
'I honestly can't say why – we've set a very high standard for ourselves this year and fortunately today we weren't able to reach those standards, so we've just got to dust ourselves down and go again next week really,' said Vaughan.
'Credit has got to go to Leicester. They fully took advantage of us not being at the high standard we should be at today, so you've got to take your hat off to them, but we all know we could have done better and we feel it's a missed opportunity.
'We couldn't play like that in the Premier League. Every week we go out there to reach those standards we've set. Today wasn't one of those days but we have got another massive game coming up next week and we'll go again and give it our all then.
'Obviously Holty is a massive player for us, but every one of us has confidence in every one of the players in the dressing room alongside us, so I don't think we can blame it on anybody not playing,' said Vaughan. 'We were all confident going into the game. It just didn't happen for us. It is one of those days.
'You mention the likes of Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett. They have been fantastic this season, so miscontrolling the odd ball – people aren't going to hold that against them. We know we can play better and we will do everything we can to put it right this week.'
The City striker understood and empathised with the boos of the home crowd at the final whistle.
'No one is more upset about it than us in the dressing room,' he added. 'Those boos are there because we have set a high standard for ourselves and when we don't reach that, that's what we expect. It's one of those things really.'