AFTER missing the entirety of the season to date, Gordon Walker was back running on grass last week.
The Cork City player suffered a terrible injury in a pre-season game in February when he broke his leg, but Walker is hoping that he can be back involved in full training after the mid-season break at the beginning of June.
“I’ve been feeling really good of late and my recovery has been going well. I’m ahead of schedule. It’s about taking it step by step really,” Walker said.
“I was on anti-grav [anti-gravity treadmill] first and did a few sessions on that and I am now back on the pitch starting to jog again. At the start of my rehab, it was tough and frustrating. It’s hard mentally because you are restricted in what you can do.
“I was doing very little. I wanted to do more because I thought that’s what might get me back quick but obviously, you have to listen to the physios because they know best.
“It’s tough coming in every day doing the same thing and not seeing the lads as much because they are out on the pitch and I am either in the gym or physio room.
There were times when I just didn’t feel part of it but I think that is normal for any player. When you’re not training every day or playing matches you are going to feel that you are missing out.
“I just had to be patient with my rehab. It started with strengthening my leg up. I was able to include swimming after a while, then anti-grav and now I’m back running.
“The next stage now will be to try and get back into full contact training but I know that it is important that I don’t rush myself back without my leg being full healed.”
Walker, who turns 23 tomorrow, has never sustained a severe injury before breaking his leg and has been cautious about his return to fitness. He spent the first month after his injury in bed and is confident that he will be back to the levels of fitness required soon.
“After the injury, I spent the first month just lying in bed. It was just too painful to move around.
“There would be times I wanted to go and get myself a cup of tea but even that was a chore. The most I did was get up to use the bathroom.
“This is the first time I’ve had an injury that has kept me out for so long so I became a little bit more aware of what I was eating. I don’t think I’ve put on weight — may be a small bit of body fat but I would expect to burn that off once I start training properly again.
“I have been doing things like the ski machine and watt bike and, like I said, a bit of swimming as well to keep as much fitness as I can. But as much as they have been beneficial, nothing compares to getting back on the pitch and running, they are completely different fitness.
“I suppose I’m fortunate in some way that, if you are going to sustain a serious injury, it’s better for it to happen earlier in your career rather than later because you probably have a better chance of recovering from it when you are younger.”
Although he has not featured in a game this season, Walker is ever-present at all of his team’s matches.
He has keenly observed his team-mates this season, especially with the side playing a new system. However, as much as the City defender has learned from watching games, he believes it is completely different when you are on the pitch.
“I suppose, when you can’t play in games the next best thing is to go and watch them, and I think it is important that lads out of the squad are there to support the rest of the players,” Walker says.
“I have tried to learn as much as I can from watching games this year. I played most of last season at right-back so I have been watching carefully positions players are taking now with the switch to three at the back.
“In saying that, it’s different on the pitch. Players don’t have as much time as you would think they do when you are watching.
“Decisions have to be made very quickly on the pitch and I am aiming to get back as soon as I can."