HASNEY Aljofree took his first steps back to regular action yesterday, admitting his career as a professional footballer hung in the balance over the summer.
The centre-back has been sidelined since December with a serious knee injury - the same ailment that has troubled Tottenham captain Ledley King and England cricket star Andrew Flintoff.
And after 10 months kicking his heels in the stands, Aljofree was just delighted to be able to kick a ball in anger again as Town’s reserves beat their Plymouth counterparts 3-2 yesterday.
“It’s been a long old time - almost 10 months to the day,” the 31-year-old told the Advertiser.
“It’s felt ages and left me wondering at times if it was ever going to end, but it was a big bonus to just get back on the pitch and play again.
“I’ve had a few injuries over my career, but with this one and my age, it was touch and go as to whether I could get back because it was quite severe.
“I’ve seen quite a few surgeons to get different opinions. It’s a bit of a grey area with sportsmen at the moment because there’s no set way to get back.
“But I’ve had the best treatment, the best people looking after me and I’ve had a surgeon in Coventry - Tim Spalding - always making sure that everything is correct. Touch wood I can now just carry on and step by step get back to full fitness.”
Aljofree revealed his recovery has, at times, been a lonely affair, but paid tribute to his Town colleagues for their support in his battle to regain full fitness.
“My training’s been limited with the lads because of my injury - maybe only once a week I can get involved with them, because everything else has to be non-weight bearing on my knee,” he explained.
“Everything else has been on my own and it’s been mental torture at times. Ten months is a long time for anyone and it’s hard to see the end of the tunnel sometimes when you’ve been out for so long.
“There are dark times when you get lonely and you start wondering if you’re ever going to play again, but I’ve had a good backing here with the physio and lads right behind me, backing me up every day.“ And now, having got 45 minutes of competitive action under his belt, the former Plymouth man admits he just needs regular game time - be it in the reserves or in a loan spell away from the County Ground.
“I’ve got to speak to the manager to see my next steps, but I’m on my way back and it may mean reserve games or getting out on loan,” said Aljofree.
“I could either get a few games and try to fight for my place here, or go out on loan and get a fresh start somewhere else.
“You can’t tell what’s around the corner.
“There’s still a long way to go, but whatever I do in the future has to be done correctly.
“I can’t rush into anything for the sake of the rest of my career.”