Paddy Davitt: Time to write the defining chapter for Matt Jarvis at Norwich City
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Matt Jarvis is due a slice of good luck at Norwich City.
The cynics might contend he got plenty when the Canaries rushed to turn a season-long loan into a three-and-a-half year contract at the start of 2016.
All the stranger perhaps given he was in the midst of an injury lay-off at the time with a knee problem that curtailed a genuinely positive start to his Carrow Road career.
A fine goal on his Premier League debut, in a 3-1 home win over Bournemouth, was followed by another two games later in a 3-0 League Cup win against West Brom.
Few were disputing then it looked bad business to recruit the West Ham and former England international midfielder.
Jarvis did make it back for the end of a season that ended in relegation but further knee and ankle problems have turned the intervening 18-months into a virtual write-off.
Perhaps unfairly that has left him exposed as a convenient scapegoat in these more financially straightened times at Norwich, where lowering the wage bill and trimming the playing squad are a necessity.
Jarvis neither chose to be injured or force the Canaries to entice him to turn his initial loan stint into a lucrative permanent contract.
That is the fickle nature of elite professional sport.
It also glosses over the hours, days and months of painful rehabilitation to rebuild his body with no prospect on the horizon of actually going out in front of 25,000 every other week and showing the Norwich public just why his talents commanded more than £10m in transfer fees since his emergence as a trainee at Gillingham.
Jarvis is a popular character in the Norwich changing room.
A fact alluded to by Daniel Farke recently when he revealed the 31-year-old is poised to return to first team training this month. Farke spoke as much about the type of person as the type of player he is looking forward to working with.
What is not in doubt is his technical ability.
In that regard, Jarvis is a midfielder cast in the Farke mould. What all concerned must now discover between a landmark playing return and the end of this Championship season is whether he is part of Farke’s future.
That financial dimension rooted in a contract signed in the good times will surely weigh heavily in the final decision.
Jarvis still has 15 months or so left on his existing Carrow Road deal.
More tough decisions lie ahead for Stuart Webber and the club’s board this coming summer, once the parachute money evaporates, and the stark reality of trying to compete with diminishing resources is underlined on the balance sheet.
Yet in purely footballing terms time may have already moved on for Jarvis at Norwich. Marley Watkins and Onel Hernandez have both been recruited since Farke’s arrival, to provide competition for Josh Murphy in wide areas.
Yanic Wildschut remains on the payroll - if on the periphery - given the German sanctioned his loan move to Cardiff.
But Jarvis is a different player to all the above.
Less a flying wideman with that direct thrust and unpredictability to the outcome, more a craftsman who has the experience and top flight nous that could prove invaluable if his fitness issues are firmly behind him.
One thing is indisputable.
His chronic inactivity in the past 18 months suggests there are fewer miles on the clock than you might expect for a player who made his debut while Nigel Worthington was still in charge in these parts.
It will be fascinating to watch how this unfolds over the coming weeks.
Farke’s intentions may become clearer if he fast-tracks Jarvis back into the first team mix, once all the medical and sports science advice indicates he is ready. Should Farke decide the challenge is too steep to return between now and May then it would hardly be a huge surprise to see him depart in the summer.
Norwich fans have only seen a fleeting glimpse of Jarvis’ ability.
There would be a tinge of sadness if the abiding memory is of a player whose legacy was not what he offered on the pitch but what he cost off it.
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