After picking up a rare injury, it has been close to six months since Drew Talbot last kicked a ball, but the signs are finally looking good for a first team return to action.
Talbot talked through his difficult time with injury and how the situation spiralled into such a serious condition.
He said: “I’ve been injured before and got myself back for four or five years and now it feels like I’ve wasted a year really. I played the majority of last season injured when I probably shouldn’t have done but that’s the kind of person I am.
“If I’m 75% I’m carrying on but speaking to the surgeon this time he said I need to get fully fit because I’m coming back from the injury I’ve had, but it can affect you in other ways so I’m just taking my time really.
“The problem was this injury wasn’t diagnosable straight away. It was an accumulation of things. I had an operation with a different person last March and we thought that was going to fix the problem and it turned out to be nothing to do with it.
“I was lucky that the surgeon found out what the injury was because I’d been doing pre-season training and then he told me that I’d ripped both of my inductors off the bone, which is unheard of.
"He anchored them back and I’ve got eight anchors somewhere in my body now which cost a fortune so it means a lot to him as well as me that I get back fit.
“He told me that there had only been 90 cases of tearing the inductors and only two where it had been bilateral, where it’s happened on both sides, so I’m a rare case."
Although admitting he has become fed up with constantly being in the gym, the defender says he knows what he has to do to get fit and is looking forward to coming back.
“I got the green light from the surgeon to pick up my training which is good,” said Talbot. “I’m looking forward to it because I could train within three to four weeks but I’m going to be conservative and take my time. I don’t want to be breaking down from this again. I can’t afford to.
Talbot returned to training last week, doing mainly aerobic work with club physio Rodger Wylde, but the wide man is now starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“I've put my boots on for the first time so I’ll probably have sore feet for a few days now. I’ll still do my gym work because that’s imperative but it’s nice to be back at training and amongst the lads again.
"The temptation was to try to kick a ball today but I’m doing well to hold back a little bit but I saw the lads training today and I can’t wait to get back in that environment.
“I’ve done a little bit of ball work and I’ve been allowed to play a bit of two-touch and a bit of head tennis but there’s nothing like being able to strike a ball and I haven’t done that for about five months now.
"It’s tough but I have to look after myself. They’re looking after me quite well and it’s coming along well.”
As bad luck would have it the right back is coming back to full fitness at a time where the volume of games is beginning to decrease, but Talbot is determined to get minutes on the pitch and is relishing the opportunity of working his way back into contention.
Talbot said: “The problem now is that there aren’t many games around Christmas time. I’ve been thinking about training with the youth team and I’m sure the gaffer will organise some games because I need as many minutes training as possible.
"Sam Hird should be coming back around the same time as me which is good because we feed on each other a little bit so I can’t wait."
Talbot is likely to come back and fight for contention in his position with Tendayi Darikwa, a player who has made the similar move from a more attacking position.
Talbot said: “Tendayi has done really well. He’s doing the same thing that I did when I first went to right back. It is new to you, you have to learn the game and get this defensive side to you that you’re not used to.
"I’ve been at right back for about two and a half years now and I’m still learning. If you ask me to play right midfield I could just switch on but when you’re at full back you have to think about a lot of different things. Against Swindon I thought he was excellent and he’s done really well.”