HOPEFULLY I will be back on the training pitch next week doing some jogging. Only for 20 minutes or so, may be broken into 10 lots of two minutes, but it will be a huge plus for me.
This week marked two years since I suffered my serious knee injury playing in our victory over Nottingham Forest at Pride Park, now the iPro Stadium. Even the name of the stadium has changed since I last played!
Has the two years gone slowly or quickly? It is not an easy question to answer.
On the one hand, it has gone extremely slowly but on the other it doesn’t seem like two years since that night.
I have almost forgotten what it feels like to train, to be involved on a match day and to experience and control those match-day nerves.
Of course I watch the matches and sit there willing Derby County to do well but you really want to be out there with the lads, in the thick of the action, going through the highs and lows.
Do I think about what happened on a daily basis?
I cannot really remember having a good knee.
I can’t remember being able to run around with my daughter, and being able to have a jog or kick a ball – the things you take for granted. You want to have that feeling again because you want to remember what it felt like.
I loved to play and train really hard. I loved coming off the training pitch every day feeling a bit knackered but knowing I had put a good shift in. I have missed that.
You do not really think about the joints in your body until they start aching or hurting. A serious injury like mine is going to affect me for the rest of my life and so you can never switch off from it.
What I do is focus on my aspirations to experience all those feelings again.
I focus on my goal to get back playing.
The further I have gone with my rehabilitation, the closer those feelings are.
Hopefully it will not be too long before I get some of those feelings back again.
I always had aspirations to come back earlier than expected but the problem is we have never really had a realistic timescale for a return because this is a unique injury in football terms.
They said 18 months after my first operation but I have had four, and we kind of knew it would be at least two years.
It is impossible to say how bad the knee injury was although I knew it was bad at the time, I knew it was a career-threatening injury.
I have read up on NFL players who have had an injury like mine and the majority have had a limp for the rest of their life and struggled to stand for any length of time, or cannot jog.
I am not limping now and I am able to jog at 90 per cent with the Alter G treadmill (a machine that gets players to run at less than their bodyweight to protect their injured joints).
As I said, next week I should be jogging on the grass, at 100 per cent body weight.
It has been step by step.
I have gradually got better. I have always seen an improvement month on month and so I have never had a complete standstill even if at times my rehab did not reflect that.
I have progressed quite quickly in the last six to eight weeks.
We have ramped up my work load. I am doing more leg weights, more muscle bulk stuff. I am working harder on my legs than I have done before, stepping up the work on the Alter G machine.
Jogging on the grass, joining in some light training, playing for the under-21s/reserves – I still have all of those goals in front of me but I have to take them one step at at time.
I have another year on my contract to get myself back in the frame.
I know it is going to be tough.
If you are out for a year, it is tough to get back in, 18 months more so.
At 31, I have had two years out and not had a pre-season for five years. It is going to be extremely tough but I am going to relish getting back, relish fighting to get in that starting 11.
It is strange when I look outside at the boys training. I have not played or trained with three quarters of them!
Of the starting 11 against Forest that night two years ago, eight are no longer at the club.
A lot of the lads won’t see me necessarily as a player because they have not played or trained with me. It is a strange position to be in.
I am looking forward to the day I can play in training against Sammo (Conor Sammon) but may be not running one-on-one against him because I wouldn’t be able to catch him if I had two good knees!
I am looking forward to training with Will Hughes. I don’t think I have trained with Will.
I have not been surprised at how much I have missed playing. I hated missing a game. I would even play when only 50 or 60 per cent fit, as I have done on many occasions at Derby.
I have, however, been surprised how well I have coped with being out for two years.
Of course this has been the toughest time in my career, that goes without saying, but anybody who has spoken to me in the last two years will know I have always been positive.
And that remains the case.