Paddy Davitt: Full power required for Vadis Odjidja at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Vadis Odjidja is in danger of becoming an enigma at Norwich City. Paddy Davitt senses this is a big year in his footballing life.
He has more vowels in his name than Norwich City starts but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe must come of age at Carrow Road this season.
A powerhouse of a midfielder, with a Belgian international cap to his name and a pedigree playing in European club competition for FC Bruges, should have left a serious mark at Norwich.
But his manager, team mates and fans are still waiting for the undoubted potential to blossom. There have been glimpses; most notably that sublime trick to provide an assist for Alex Tettey to seal a festive 1-0 Premier League win over Southampton. But it is slim rations for a player who arrived in these parts fully two summers ago.
A knee ligament injury on his first league start at Sheffield Wednesday was a sad portent of things to come. Odjidja was nowhere near the fitness levels required to force his way into Alex Neil's plans for the rapid assault on promotion upon his arrival.
Neil perhaps remained to be convinced Odjidja was a frontline option back in the big time, given the congested nature of Norwich's midfield stocks and the presence of Jonny Howson, Tettey and Gary O'Neil's growing influence as last season progressed.
That cameo against the Saints was a fleeting moment in another campaign that flattered to deceive. Odjidja was culpable for the penalty concession in a sluggish 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth a few weeks later that marked his last competitive start.
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His talent is not in doubt but neither Neil or his predecessor have managed to find a position across Norwich's midfield that extracts his full potential. Odjidja has played wide on the left and right, centrally and as the link to a lone frontman. Such versatility is vital within any squad but it appears to have hampered his chances of progress in England.
Setting aside injury and fitness concerns, Odjijda alluded to the difficult adjustment process in the aftermath of his starring cameo against the Saints in December.
'Football in England is totally different to football elsewhere in the world,' he said. 'I think you can also see it when you look at the Champions League games. The best teams in England sometimes have difficulties against the not-so-big teams in Europe.
'So it's totally different and you have to adapt to it. That's what every player has to go through. Some take not so much time, others need more time than that and maybe some players will never really adapt to English football. You have to work hard and eventually you will find out.'
With a full pre-season and a fair run of luck with injuries the Championship should be a stage Odjidja can showcase his ability. A brief stint at Rotherham last season, when he scored once in four appearances and was feted by many in south Yorkshire for his performance-level, fuels the belief here is a player who can influence games in the second tier.
Odjidja needs to prove to Neil, first and foremost, he deserves a spot in the starting line up and then it is up to the 27-year-old to deliver on that huge promise which accompanied his heralded arrival.