'My mental and physical state wasn't the best... thankfully the gaffer picked me up' - Rowe on his Town turnaround
PUBLISHED: 16:12 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:12 07 November 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Danny Rowe hopes he can keep repaying the faith of manager Paul Lambert after turning his Ipswich Town career around.
A £100k signing from National League side Macclesfield in January 2017, the tricky winger had just two league starts to his name following a stop-start opening two-and-a-half seasons at the club.
First he was loaned to Lincoln City by Mick McCarthy, then he was made to train with the Under-23s by Paul Hurst and then Lambert sent him back to Lincoln for the second half of last season.
The Blues boss assured him that he would get his chance in League One though and so it's proved, the 26-year-old playing regularly and scoring his first goal for the club in Tuesday night's 1-0 win at Rochdale.
Speaking ahead of his reunion with Lincoln in an FA Cup first round tie at Portman Road on Saturday, Rowe - who played a key role in the Imps winning the League Two title - reflected: "I was really frustrated this time last year. I'd worked hard all summer to come back from injury, then the manager (Hurst) didn't give me a chance.
"You walk out for training with the lads and then you're told 'no, you're training with the 23s'. I can't describe the feeling. It stays with you and it affects you mentally a lot. You're all over the place.
"I wasn't in a great place with the way things were. Even the though the team was losing I wasn't getting my chance and it affected me.
"You give your all, you go and score a couple of goals for the 23s and you're still over-looked. It was really hard to take. When you aren't selected for that long it does have an impact on you."
Rowe came on as a substitute in Lambert's first game in charge, forcing a flying save out of makeshift Preston goalkeeper Paul Gallagher in a 2-2 home draw, before departing for Sincil Bank in January.
"When you go out on loan it is a bitter moment when you feel you could have been given more of an opportunity," he said. "But I understood why it happened when the gaffer took over though because, at that time, I hadn't played. I'd literally had no game time and he was left with no choice but to send me out on loan because I wasn't as fit as the other lads.
"My physical and mental state wasn't the best, but thankfully the gaffer has picked me up.
"He sat me down over the summer and said 'look, you're going to get a chance' and he's stuck by his word. Hopefully I can keep repaying him."
Lambert dubbed Rowe 'an incredibly talented footballer', but 'a confidence player, no two ways about it' following Tuesday's match-winner.
"I understand what he's saying, 100%, there's no doubt about that," said Rowe.
"I was questioning where things were going, but you just have to ignore those thoughts. Then, when you play and you realise how much you're enjoying it, you start to get confidence. Winning the league at Lincoln made such a difference to me.
Looking back on his time at Lincoln, Rowe said: "They were good to me and I did well for them. I'll always have some good memories from my time there and I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces this weekend.
"I remember watching them beat Ipswich in the cup just before I signed here and thinking 'wow'. They were National League and Ipswich were in the Championship, now they're both in League One. They've come a long way haven't they?
"They've got some good players and a really hard-working squad. It should be a good game this weekend."
Rowe, who is set to be out of contract next summer, added: "Our main goal is obviously to get promoted, but we've got a big squad and everyone wants to play. This game is another chance for anyone who has not been in the team to come in and fight for their place. Whoever is picked will be fired up."