Paul Thirlwell on his return to action
Midfielder Paul Thirlwell spoke to us about his return to action in the reserve game at Wigan on Tuesday afternoon.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "It was a good test, but the pitch was very heavy, so it was pleasing to get 45 minutes under my belt in those conditions.
"I am a little bit ahead of schedule in terms of my injury so that's good. I felt fine during the game even though I have got a few aches and pains now. I think that's to be expected when you haven't done much for a few weeks."
"It is frustrating when I'm not involved but I'd had a really good run in the team until I got this injury," he told us. "If you look at my age, and my history with calf problems, then combine it with how many games I'd played I was probably always liable to get a little strain. They never keep me out for too long, and I'm back quicker than I thought, so hopefully that will be me for the rest of the season now."
"Wigan had a good team out with a lot of hungry young lads who were keen to impress, so it was a good work out," he continued. "I do a lot of work with our youth team in training so it was good to play with a few of them. It gave me a chance to see how they're coming on and give them a bit of encouragement. I thought everyone acquitted themselves really well. It was tough to play football in the conditions but both teams gave it a good go.
"It's important for the young lads to be involved with the senior pros because that's where they want to end up. They want to be in the first team and the quicker they can adapt to that, the better players they'll be. They were probably playing against players who were only two or three years older than them but Wigan have been a Premier League club for many years and it will have been a good test for all of them."
"I'm not sure if I'll be ready for Saturday," he admitted. "I've had a few days training then I went straight into the game on Tuesday. We thought with the pitches being so heavy up here it might have been better for me to get 45 minutes down in Wigan but their pitch was very similar, which we weren't expecting. It was still a good work out and I'll train for the rest of this week and see where I'm at."
"January has been tough for the lads," he said. "I think I've only missed four league games, and the big one at Sunderland, but I have been itching to help out. I've just been focused on getting back. I've tried to help the lads as much as I can in the dressing room before games but there isn't really that much you can do. That's why I just want to be fit and back at it.
"Even though it's frustrating for me not to be playing I have to put that to one side when I'm around the lads before the game. It's all about the 11 who are going onto the pitch. The good thing is that our home form has been really good and we're on a decent run. We're certainly going to have to maintain that until the end of the season and hopefully we'll start picking up points away from home as well."
"There is a real belief in the group that we'll be fine," he insisted. "When you look at the league we're only two or three wins away from being tenth.
"However, we can't just keep saying it, we need to get those wins. We've had a lot of new players in who maybe aren't aware of the battle we're in but we all need to realise it very quickly. On the other hand they bring a lot of positivity with them, because they all want to do well, and hopefully that will show from now until the end of the season."
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