Regrets? More than a few when reflecting on Norwich City’s Championship season. But none surely bigger than what might have been had Josh Sargent stayed fit.

The US international departed in the act of scoring at Huddersfield in August, with David Wagner’s squad unbeaten and hard on the heels of early pacesetters Leicester.

By the time he returned at the turn of this year, Wagner had clung to his job through a rocky late autumn that pushed the Canaries ever further away from the top six.

That quest for automatic promotion had long ceased, given the relentless march of clubs like the Foxes, Ipswich, Southampton and Leeds.

But Sargent’s goals were the catalyst to a turnaround that secured a top six spot, before time caught up with Wagner and his squad at Elland Road. A game when Sargent blew a huge chance at 1-0 down in trying a dink over Ilian Meslier.

In the final analysis, it may have proved academic, given how the rest of that wretched first half of the second leg unfolded. It was also out of synch with the manner Sargent had look so assured in front of goal, either side of a damaging and prolonged ankle injury lay-off.

To produce 18 goal contributions in 26 Championship games was a phenomenal personal return. In a post-Teemu Pukki world, it offered reassurance Norwich have a forward with the power, pace and the finishing ability to plunder in the second tier.

With each addition you could visibly see the confidence coursing through Sargent. There was the telepathy with Gabby Sara but also a relationship with Ashley Barnes that clicked from the earliest moments the duo were paired in tandem back at King’s Lynn in pre-season.

In Barnes, Sargent found the perfect foil; the experienced partner to attract centre backs and who relished the physical confrontations of playing with his back to goal while Sargent could profit from the space in behind through Barnes’ intelligent movement to drop deep, and create confusion in opposition defences.

Norwich’s best work in and out of possession last season was anchored by that duo, and it was hardly a huge surprise Barnes’ untimely calf injury towards the end of the campaign blunted Norwich’s limp play-off offerings.

But there remain genuine concerns and questions marks for all Sargent’s output last season. Whether he can reproduce at the highest level, in terms of the same productivity, for now, remain academic.

Unless this summer’s transfer trading attracts firm top flight interest and Norwich have a decision to make.

Sargent has shown no public signal he craves pastures new. There was a longer term Carrow Road deal signed during last season, and a reaffirmation he wants to reach the Premier League in green and yellow.

But Sargent has also made no secret of his desire to be a focal point of his country’s attack for a home World Cup in 2026. He knows his chances of doing so improve if he is back on grander stages.

More pressing in the here and now is the sense the 24-year-old remains troubled by the after-effects of that early-season ankle injury.

Having been called up by his country for Copa America duty, that would appear to now be in doubt given the latest worrying bulletin delivered by his national boss Gregg Berhalter ahead of a warm up friendly this weekend against Colombia.

Sargent has been training away from the group with a 'nagging foot injury'. It sounds all too familiar. 

His club boss, Wagner, revealed months after the striker's new year return to the ranks his star forward was still struggling to complete a full week of training.

That first leg stalemate against Leeds at Carrow Road ended with him hobbling out of the action, with Wagner confirming the ankle was again causing him problems.

Although he made the second leg return he failed to appear for the second half at Elland Road.

A summer to rest and recover fully was denied him by a call up to the US squad for a Copa America campaign which could feasibly end with him playing through to mid-July. Although he, and Norwich, may well now get that enforced rest. 

Sargent was an absolute crucial component for Wagner, and unless there is an unpredictable transfer twist, it would be reasonable to assume he would remain so under Johannes Hoff Thorup.

But there has to be a clear resolution to the fitness and injury issues that have blighted him for club and now country.