Jack Rodwell’s ability has been well-known for some time now and isn’t in any doubt. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his fitness.
A promising centre-half in his time coming through the Everton academy set-up, Rodwell was well-known to clubs across the country who had heard of the boy tipped to be England’s next big defensive talent, having made his first appearance for the under-18s aged 14 and made his reserve team debut at the age of 15.
Aged 16 and 284 days he became Everton’s youngest player in Europe when making his first-team debut and went on to make over 100 appearances for the Toffees, predominantly in midfield where his natural athleticism and defensive ability were well balanced with a good technical ability on the ball.
Rodwell was hot property and was heavily linked to Manchester United over the course of successive summers but no move materialised until Manchester City swooped in August 2012 to complete a five-year deal for one of England’s brightest talents.
His arrival came off the back of the departure of Nigel De Jong and signalled an evolution in City’s midfield from the combative Dutchman to the more refined Rodwell who could do the job defensively and offer greater ability on the ball and an option to join attacks.
It has not been the best of times for 21-year-old Rodwell at the Etihad since his move, his early appearances were marred by some crucial mistakes that cost his new side goals and ultimately points and since then injuries have restricted him to just three starts and eight appearances in total.
Rodwell’s career at Everton had been hit by injury, managing only 14 league outings last term, and he spoke earlier in the season of the changes he had made off the field to help boost his injury woes, including changing his car and moving closer to City’s training base in Carrington.
"At Everton, I got a couple of hamstring injuries and I doubted whether I was built for it [football]," said Rodwell.
"I had between five and 10 setbacks and that’s not just from the original injury.
"It is mentally hard. There are times when you come into training and you’re set back again and you don’t know what to do.
"To be honest, I did think the worst, but then I thought that there’s not many people in the position of being injured doing the thing they love.
"I had to take the positives and think I’m still young and in a great position at one of the best teams in the world.
"I looked at it like that and took a bit more time, got fit and kept my mentality strong.
"Now I’m back."
Unfortunately, it appears Southport-born Rodwell spoke too soon as his hamstring gave way again during last night’s 1-0 victory at Aston Villa, with Roberto Mancini anticipating he’ll miss up to four weeks.
It’s another setback for Rodwell who missed out on Euro 2012 and the Olympics last summer, and it will raise more doubts over whether or not he can sustain peak fitness to fulfil his potential.
One thing is certain though, he’ll do everything he can to make that happen.
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