Striker Caolan Lavery admits he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Sheffield Wednesday’s medical staff who have helped him on the long road back to fitness.
The 22-year-old has not played since the final day of the 2013/14 season after damaging his left knee cruciate ligament in the Owls’ pre-season friendly at Doncaster Rovers last July.
But Lavery is edging closer to a first-team return after featuring in Tuesday’s friendly development match with Middlesbrough. He played 70 minutes and is relieved to be back in action following a three and a half month lay-off.
“It felt really good to get back out there after a long period,” Lavery told The Star. “You just can’t describe the feeling of playing football.
“It’s what I have wanted to do ever since I was a little kid. I have missed the banter in training with the lads.
“It’s tough when you are just with the physios every day. When you are injured, you come in and you are with the physios most of the day. They deserve so much credit for getting me back.
“Paul Smith, Kevin Mulholland and Stephen Gilpin have all been spot on with me and I’ve done lots of work with Andy Kalinins (Wednesday’s Performance Director), Ben Parker (first-team masseur) too.”
Lavery, brought up in Canada by Irish parents, was satisfied with his performance versus Boro.
He said. “I did okay after three and a half months out. There were just little bits and pieces I need to work on but I’m getting my sharpness back. There are little runs I need to learn to do again. That sharpness will come the more I train and get games under my belt.”
Lavery hopes to force his way back into Owls boss Stuart Gray’s plans sooner rather than later.
“I want to be knocking on the first-team door as soon as possible,” he said. “I don’t want to rush anything but I don’t want to be sitting back and waiting for the coaching staff to ask me ‘how do you think you feel.’ I want to be one to let them know how I’m feeling.
“I’ve got over the injury. I’m back training and I’m back playing games. It is a matter of showing the gaffer what I can do.”
After watching Wednesday go 10 matches without a win in all competitions, Lavery is keen to help the club move up the table. He accepts that Gray’s side need to turnaround their poor run of form, starting at Huddersfield Town this weekend.
“Huddersfield is the ideal game for us,” he said. “It’s live on TV and derby games are brilliant to play in.
“It is a vitally important game. It is not make or break because it’s too early on in the season but it would be a great time to get the three points and push on again.”