RECOVERING from injury is all about clearing a number of hurdles before you can return to action. I feel like I cleared a big hurdle this week.
I trained with the first team for the first time in two years and 10 months since shattering my knee playing against Nottingham Forest in March 2012.
I’ve been training with the under-21s a couple of times a week for the past three or four weeks, and it felt a little bit better and easier with each session.
Myself and the physios asked if I could join in with the first team fairly soon although I didn’t realise it would be on Tuesday.
The day before, the Monday, I had some tightness in my back and I thought I would spend Tuesday doing a session with the fitness coach only for the gaffer to say ‘look, if you want to join in, you can do’.
I didn’t need a second invitation.
I’ll let you into a little secret, and it is quite funny given how long I’ve been out with my knee, but my back seized up after only 20 seconds of being out there with the first-team lads.
I didn’t want to say anything and I trained for pretty much the whole session with back pain rather than knee pain!
I’ll admit it, I was nervous. I felt like a new signing and Wardy (Jamie Ward) introduced me as the ‘new boy’.
We did a little bit of possession, some team shape and then finished off with a game.
I had a little role as the No.10, though I’m not sure it will be my new position. I’ll tell you what, Chrissy Martin makes it look easy, he really does.
Although I came out on the losing side in the game, it was great to be out there again and I have to say that the standard of the lads was very high.
It was the first time I had trained with the majority of the players because most have arrived at the club since I last played.
Being out there again was a moment I had been looking forward to for a long time.
I’ve got a few more training sessions with the first team to go before I am ready for an under-21 game. Having trained, it feels like a game is a realistic proposition, and not too far away.
It was another test, another hurdle, but I know there is still a fair way to go.
The knee is still slightly uncomfortable and I am still wary of certain things, but I am hoping that within the next three or four weeks I will be close to joining in an under-21 game whether that is for 10 or 15 minutes, 30 minutes or half a game.
It is something that hopefully is not too far away.
As soon as you get back into training you have to start thinking less and less about the knee.
All your rehab is structured and so you know what is coming, and how you have to react to certain fitness sessions but there is nothing like training or being in a game situation to test your body.
People will think I’ll be worried about making that first tackle, that first block or that first 50-50, but I am thinking completely the opposite. I am looking forward to it.
I was not worried about the knee in that first session back under the watchful eye of the gaffer and his coaches. I was more worried about not trying to stand out and not looking like somebody who had been out for almost three years.
It felt good driving home from training in the afternoon, apart from the back twinges!
I told the wife about my day and there was a nod and appreciation between us that we have got over another hurdle, made another step.
Now onto the next hurdle, a game.
This week has been a huge step but I only see it as a job half-done.
Hopefully the last part of my rehab will go the quickest.