Chris Chantler on staying with United
Defender Chris Chantler shrugged off the disappointment of being sidelined for the remainder of this season with a troublesome ankle injury when he put pen-to-paper last week on a new deal which keeps him at Brunton Park until the summer of 2014.
Speaking moments after completing the paperwork, he said: “It is a relief to have it done.
“The last month has probably been one of the hardest times of my career, so to get the contract sorted is just one thing off my mind.”
“We've been talking about it for a couple of months now,” he revealed. “It was actually all going to be sorted on the day I had to go and see the surgeon, but I was told I needed the operation and it all had to be pushed back another couple of weeks.
“It was always going to be signed but there were a lot of things to talk about. That’s always the same with these things. Now that we’ve done it I can just focus on my rehab over the summer without having that little bit of doubt in my mind.”
“I feel very settled here now,” he said. “I've been here a year and a half now and I get on really well with the lads, and the gaffer has been brilliant with me. I think playing games has helped me to feel really settled with everything about the club.
“I'm comfortable with the fact the deal is for another year. I'm at an age now where I just need to be playing football. If I can do the same next year then hopefully I can earn myself a longer deal and hopefully we'll be here again this time next year. The first thing I need to do is get fit and then I carry things on from where I left off.”
But with his foot firmly encased in a protective boot, and a set of crutches propped against the chair, thoughts of a return to action will obviously have to be delayed.
“I had a skin reaction to my cast which has set me back a week or so,” he said. “That isn't a big deal though because we're coming to the end of the season anyway.
“I'm in this boot for four weeks and I still need to keep my foot up so that it can heal. After that we can start with the rehab and we can take it from there. There’s no reason to rush it and the aim has to be back and ready for pre-season.”
“I've been at home with my feet up for the last two weeks and it's been difficult not being able to do anything,” he admitted. “I think I've got another week of that and then I can start doing stuff again. That’ll make it easier because I'm a very active person.
“I've been following Soccer Saturday and Twitter on a Saturday afternoon and, even though it's interesting to see games from other people's perspectives, it isn't what any footballer wants to be doing. The first couple of weeks were hard because the pain was unbearable and I couldn't even do anything to take my mind off it. It got me down a bit, but my family have been round to try and lift my mood as well. I've never really had a long injury so it's definitely something new for me.”
“It was frustrating when it all first started [Hartlepool 26 December] because the initial scans didn’t show anything majorly wrong,” he continued. “I was playing through it and doing some exercises to help, but then I got to the point where I couldn’t kick a ball properly. From there it started to hurt when I was walking and that was when Dolly said it had gone too far and I needed to see a surgeon.
“As a player you always try and play through the pain, but the Bury and Crewe games were difficult because I couldn't turn or move sharply. Not playing at Swindon massively helped because it gave me a decent amount of time to rest it, and I felt great in the Coventry game, but then I went over on it in training and there was no coming back from that.”
“It's been a strange season for me because I managed to get into the team and then keep my place,” he said. “Then the injury came and it’s just massively frustrating. Keeping my place has to be positive for me because it shows I was doing something right.
“I’m happy playing at left back or in midfield. To be honest, I just wanted to get in the team and left back is a position I'm really comfortable with. I've probably played there more than in midfield.
“I'm more comfortable being a left back because it's just a one-on-one situation and everything is in front of you. With midfield it's more difficult, but if I had a run of games in there I still feel I could do it well."
“My goals for next season are obviously to get fit and to get my place back again,” he concluded. “Pre-season is usually quite an even playing field anyway, so I just need to be fit so I can remind people what I can do.”