The young midfielder has now been given a significant chance to impress
It took Xavier Simons until the 33rd Championship game of the season to get the chance to play from the start for Hull City, following his summer deadline day move from Chelsea.
An exhaustive period that would test the resolve of the most experienced player, let alone one aged 19 and a long, long way from the home comforts of London.
Simons, however, adopts a philosophical point of view having developed a particularly strong relationship with Liam Rosenior, the man who handed him that full debut against Preston North End on Saturday, so much so, his loan move from Stamford Bridge is going to be made permanent.
Having waited six months to get a first league start under his belt, the midfielder who celebrated his 20th birthday on Monday, could now enjoy a flurry of successive appearances owing to the injury picked up by Jean Michael Seri, which will likely keep the Ivorian sidelined for the next six weeks, while the month-long lay-off facing Ryan Woods will only add to his chances of a spell in the side.
“It’s been a frustrating period of time being held out of the squad and not getting my opportunity, but I’ve been working hard every day in training,” he told Hull Live.
“I just want the best for the team really, and if that’s not me then I’ll play my part. When it is, I’ll take my opportunity with both hands and I’ll run with it, I just want the best for the club because I want the club back in the Premier League.
“Yes, of course,” Simons said when asked if Seri’s injury gives him the chance to pin down a regular starting place. “It’s unfortunate that Mika got injured because he’s been a massive player for us, he’s massive in the way we play.”
Midfield general Seri will be a big loss to City, and boss Rosenior, but as one door closes, another opens and now Simons will have the chance to take advantage of his misfortune, as harsh as that may sound.
“Me and Mika are both extremely close on and off the pitch and I learn from him every day,” Simons explained. “Hopefully, it’s my opportunity now to step up and play that role. Hopefully, when Mika comes back I’m still in the team and then we can play together.
“As I said, it’s unfortunate Mika is injured and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone but to get that break is a positive for me and it’s an opportunity for me to step in and show what I can do.”
Despite his obvious frustration at being restricted to the odd appearance from the bench and a solitary start in the FA Cup defeat to Fulham, Simons says his focus has always been on being ready when called upon and when called upon against Preston, he delivered a performance that you’d expect from someone playing their 30th, not first.
“I’ve had a lot of setbacks in my career that have held me back,” he said. “I’ve had two knee injuries that have stopped my development and coming here I felt like I was ready to kick on into the men’s game.
“It’s not taken off as I thought it would, but the team around me have helped me. My parents, my family and they keep me level-headed, they say ‘listen, you’ve got to keep going, your opportunity will come, stay ready and when your opportunity does come, you have to take it.’
“Liam and Justin have been top, they’ve kept me going. Yes, it’s been disappointing being left out of the squad, but I always have a part to play.
“I’m fortunate to get my opportunity now and I felt like I took it with both hands.”