U18 forward on being back in action
Youth team second-year striker Alex Salmon put the bad memories of two frustrating ankle injuries behind him when he burst back onto the scene with five goals in the 16-0 victory over Penrith Rangers in the Cumberland Cup at Brunton Park.
We caught up with him at the end of last week to find out a bit more about what it’s like to miss out when all you really want to be doing is playing football.
“I loved every minute of playing in my first game back [Cumberland Cup match v Penrith Rangers],” he said. “It was just a couple of weeks ago that I thought I was going to need an operation so it was good news when I found out that it wasn’t needed.
“I’ve worked really hard in the gym since then and the reward was to be involved in the Cumberland Cup game.”
“I’d had my injury last season, and that was bad enough, so it was horrible when it happened again this time round. It was a different type of ankle injury but I don’t think that made it any easier.
“I remember sitting on my own in the physio room the day after I picked it up and I couldn’t believe it had happened again. It was just a massive worry because I’m in my second year and I need to be playing. I must have pestered Dolly [Neil Dalton] to death because I just wanted to know what was going on. I just hope I never have to go through it again.”
His appearances in the youth team at the start of this season had involved a change of role with a switch to an attacking midfield berth which, in turn, led to much more involvement on the ball during the game.
“I was really enjoying that,” he admitted. “I was getting on the ball as much as possible and I don’t mind sitting deep and doing the midfield work. When I was the lone striker all I had to worry about was where I wanted to go and how to get past my marker. Now I have to think about who is around me and how best to use the ball. I’ll play anywhere I’m asked to though, and obviously I always enjoy scoring.”
“With it being my second year I was really worried that it was going to ruin my chances of getting a contract,” he said. “I spoke to Eric about that and he told me that all I could do was work hard and stay positive.
“I felt strong and fit going onto the pitch in the Cumberland Cup game. Then I got the first touch of a ball and I scored a goal quite early, and that was probably what I needed. When I was in the dressing room I told the rest of the lads that one goal would do. I ended up with five so it was a good game for me.
“There was no debate about the header which hit the bar as far as I’m concerned. It came onto the keeper but it was going in anyway. I think that makes it my goal. The most pleasing of the goals for me was when I took the lad on in the box and then beat the keeper. I enjoyed that one.”
“I’m just looking forward to playing regularly again now,” he added. “The second year goes really quickly and we’ve been looking back at games we played last season, and it’s ridiculous that it has gone this quickly.
“All I’m doing is looking at the four lads who made it through from last season and using that as my incentive. It’s a decision that has to be made and I’m thinking about everything I do around the club now. I want to come across in the right way because I want everyone to feel that I’m worth a chance.
“We get the chance to train with the first team here and you have to do that right as well. The pace is much faster with them and you have to thin about what you’re going to do with the ball before you even get it.
“It’s all aiming towards getting a contract now. That’s what my focus is on. Hopefully I’ll get some goals and help the team and that’ll be enough.”
United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Alex Salmon later today. For more information on United Player, and to subscribe, click HERE.