‘Lifetime’ wait at an end for Norwich City’s Jacob Butterfield
Jacob Butterfield admits it has felt like a lifetime waiting for his Norwich City debut – but cannot wait to get going tonight.
The forward signed from Barnsley in the summer during his recovery from a knee injury sustained on New Year's Eve.
But after a handful of games for City's Under-21 side, the 22-year-old will finally get to sample life as a fully fledged Canary when Doncaster visit for tonight's Capital One Cup third round tie (7.45pm).
'It's been a long time coming – nine months or so I've not played – so when I found out I was going to start… I'm just really looking forward to it,' said Butterfield.
'I missed the second part of the season last year and that was a frustrating time because you want to be out on the pitch.
'So I think signing for Norwich and getting this move gave me a little boost in the summer and encouragement to keep working hard and get back fit. So I'm really glad I'm ready to go now because it feels like a lifetime I've been here and waiting for that chance.
'Coming to a new club you want to impress straight away. I've had to be patient and it's been frustrating, to be honest. But I've got the opportunity now to get my debut and get the Norwich shirt on.'
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Butterfield's introduction has taken longer than had originally been planned – and involved City boss Chris Hughton and his backroom team at Colney ensuring the forward's fitness progress was a sustainable one.
'It's not been easy,' Butterfield added. 'I've had a lot of days where I've felt frustrated. I've been training a few weeks and as soon as you start training you think 'right, I'm ready to play now' – and the physios and manager say 'you need to be sensible and we don't want you breaking down again; we need to get you up and running and ready to go properly'.
'So it is frustrating and it is mentally tough. You've got to try to always look at the positives and focus on what the long-term goal is.
'I've had some frustrating days but I'm glad I've come through it and I'm ready to go now, so I'm happy again.'
Having had such a long lay-off, Butterfield acknowledges it will take more than 90 minutes tonight to fully find his feet.
'I feel fit and I feel good but I've not played a game for nine months, so it's going to take a couple to feel like I'm back into it and to get back to my normal self,' he said. 'But the only way that is going to come is by playing competitive games in the cup and hopefully I'll get my chance in the Premier League sooner rather than later, and that will give me a big help to get me back to where I was.'
Alex Tettey, Mark Bunn and Harry Kane are also set for first starts this evening.
Butterfield added: 'It's been OK being in the group. I get along with all the lads fine and it's a good group, but you never really feel you're fully a player or fully part of it until you are out on the pitch with the rest of the lads and playing in the games. So I'm just glad I can go out there and feel more involved after the Doncaster game.
'There will be a few new faces the fans won't have seen before, so we'll all be looking to impress and for a lot of us it's our first opportunity to play in a game, so it gives the manager a chance to have a look at us and see where we are in his thinking in terms of the Premier League. So I'm sure it will be a good game.'