Chesterfield goalkeeper, Tommy Lee, has expressed his delight at being able to return to training with his team mates ahead of the new season, following a frustrating 2016/17 campaign.
Lee suffered a shoulder injury in the final game of the 2015/16 season, which saw him miss the whole of last season, having to watch from the side-lines as the Spireites were relegated from Sky Bet League One.
He returned to training last month and the former Manchester United man feels that his rehabilitation is progressing nicely.
“It’s coming on alright,” he said. “We set a three - four-week target when I came back in pre-season and we’re a little bit ahead of that.
“I’m doing most of the goalkeeper stuff now, I’m still not extending fully but I’m definitely a lot further on than I thought I would be.
“It [last season] was very frustrating, but it was a strange feeling that I’ve not had in football where I don’t feel part of the team.
“I wasn’t at the away games as I didn’t travel to many, you’re not training with the lads so that was probably the most difficult thing.
“But I’m back training with the goalkeepers, I’ve joined in with a little bit of the work with outfield players as well so hopefully I’ll get a few small sided games in next.”
Lee was speaking at the club’s pre-season training camp in Lepe, Spain, where he has been working with fellow goalkeepers Dylan Parkin and new signing Joe Anyon.
Anyon has started all the Spireites pre-season games to date and is yet to concede a goal, his arrival will provide Lee with stiff competition for the goalkeeper’s jersey, which he is relishing.
Lee said: “You look at what the gaffer and Steve [Eyre] want from the players and that’s competition for places - which is brilliant!
“Contrary to popular belief I have had competition before, I think Aaron Chapman was a fantastic goalkeeper and not given the credit that he deserved and Rich O’Donnell has gone on to play in the Championship, so there has been competition, I welcome it and it’s what we all want.”
Long-serving Lee has seen plenty of changes during his 10 seasons with the Spireites in a managerial and coaching capacity.
There’s also been plenty of comings and goings on the playing side, so what does Lee think of the current set up at the Proact?
“There’s a level of professionalism that all good teams have got, we’re going to need that and every single player pulling in the right direction to achieve want we want to achieve,” he commented.
“But we’ll do that, the new lads who’ve come in have been fantastic, they’re all excellent lads and good players as well which is the most important thing.
“We’ve talked about team spirit a lot, but in my opinion, it’s not about getting on with each other it’s about knowing that when you look to your right or left you’ve got players who are going to do the job on a Saturday.
“That’s what real team spirit is and I think we’ve got that at the minute.”
As well as a return to training, Lee has also added to an already busy summer by completing a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting at Staffordshire University – which he passed with flying colours, and he can now add BA Hons to the end of his name.
“I managed to complete my honours degree last month which was nice,” he added.
“It was difficult last season with my operations and being in a sling but it filled a bit of time when I wasn’t playing, so I’m very happy to come away with a first-class degree.”