Jamal Lewis views the return of the Premier League as a fresh chance for Norwich City to push for survival in the top-flight.
It was confirmed on Thursday that the 2019-20 season would resume from Wednesday, June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place.
“Everyone is looking at it like nine finals,” Lewis told the media on Friday, referring to City’s end of season run in. “We’re going to push in each game, take each one as it comes and leave everything out there on the pitch.
“It hasn’t gone that well result-wise, but I think we’ve shown everyone in the league that we can play great football, but sometimes we haven’t had that final cutting edge. That’s what we’re looking to bring in this mini start to the season again.
“I’m feeling great. I’m probably speaking for a lot of people – football fans, players, and everyone involved – who is very excited to have that target to look forward to and a date to look forward to.
“I was just happy [when the news came out] and messaging a couple of my teammates saying, ‘we’ve got our goal to aim for now’. Sometimes it’s a bit, not tough, but when you’re training as an athlete and competitor, you want to be training for something – a goal or a game.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a limbo but it’s really good now to have something to aim for. The other boys are really excited too. We’ve done a lot of conditioning work over the last two months so it’s just good to get the ball at our feet again over the last few days and games to get ready for.”
Having been through an initial period of training while socially distancing, Premier League clubs are now moving into a phase of contact training.
“We started off in small groups socially distancing, which limits a lot of the things you can do,” Lewis explained. “It’s a lot of conditioning work with the ball individually, but in the last couple of days we’ve been with the team and it’s good to have a competitive training atmosphere.
“It’s really good just to see all the boys working and being up for the task. It’s good to get the decision making and the sharpness back so we’re ready for games to resume.
“Speaking on behalf of many of my teammates, the season has been a bit frustrating because we’ve felt like we’ve put in some great performances to warrant results, but at the end of the day we’re in the best league in the world so that can happen. You’ve got to be very clinical and put games to bed.”
As for how Lewis has used his time efficiently over the last few weeks, the left-back said he’d been watching footage of his performances throughout the season, as have all of the Norwich City squad.
“During this period, I’ve looked at myself individually by looking at some previous games and seeing where personally I can improve,” he said. “I’m sure everyone else has done the same so we can push for some better results during this little period of time.
“I love it. Playing in the Premier League at such a young age is nothing to be taken for granted, so I appreciate all the opportunities given to me by Norwich and try to take them with both hands to help the team win and improve each day.
“Winning things is the best, so winning the Championship was amazing, but if we managed to do this, it might be able to pip that feeling! It’s the element of being ruled out and proving people wrong that a lot of the players and staff have in mind.
“We want to show we can still survive in this league.”
But there has also been plenty of time for footballers to pursue other endeavours or hobbies throughout lockdown and, aside from completing the club’s training programmes, Lewis has been taking part in another beneficial project.
“I’m currently doing a stocks degree,” he said. “It was just a coincidence because I was scanning my e-mails and saw something that tickled my fancy. I really wanted to be educated in the stocks world and finance. It’s really tough, don’t get me wrong, but I’m enjoying it. It’s given me an insight of how this pandemic has affected things economically.
“I always have a view of things short term and long term. It can aid me in day-to-day life and maybe once I’ve finished football. In a traditional football schedule, you have a lot of spare time on your hands so even if I can only dedicate two or three hours a day to it, I reckon I can get through it quite well.”