Mark Gillespie on his frustrating injury spell
Keeper Mark Gillespie had made the number one shirt his own, with over 50 first team appearances to his name over the course of the last two seasons, until a knee injury picked up in the final moments of the first round FA Cup away tie at Boreham Wood sent him to the treatment room for what was to become a very frustrating spell.
"It hasn't been fun at all," he admitted. "It's probably been the lowest point for me since I arrived here when I was 16. It's part and parcel of football, though, and I'm trying to look forward now because I'm over the worst of it. I'm now working as hard as I can to get back as quickly as possible.
"Looking back at the original injury, it was just an innocuous thing where I followed the ball out of play. I didn't know how bad it was because I'd never had an injury of that nature before. I was trying to concentrate on getting through the game, there were only a few minutes left, and I knew that Pottsy [Brad Potts] would have to go in goal if I couldn't finish it. When I think about it I have to say it's lucky they didn't have a shot on target because I could hardly move."
"Over that weekend I had ice on my knee constantly and that makes it difficult to get a feel for how it is," he explained. "When I came in on the Monday the lads were asking me how it was and I thought I'd be fine for the Fleetwood game on the Wednesday. It got really swollen after that so I went for a scan and found out I was going to be out for four to six weeks, which was a blow.
"When I'd seen Dolly on the Monday morning I think he knew that I was going to be out for a while as soon as he looked at it. Six weeks is a longer period of time and it was difficult to get my head round that at first. Obviously the set back over Christmas has made it miles worse and I have struggled at times. However I am definitely over the worst of it now."
"It's nice to hear people say that I was playing well but it's also frustrating," he confirmed. "I was looking to play every game this season because that's something I haven't done in my career yet. Missing training and missing games is hard and it's not the best to have to go in the gym by yourself.
"It's also difficult to interact properly with Caigy [Tony Caig] and Greg [Fleming] because I've got my own work to do. I do make sure I speak to them before the games and wish them luck. I also spoke to Ben [Amos] and made sure he knew that if he needed anything during his time up here then I would be happy to help."
"I'm not great at watching the games," he commented. "I think the Saturday home games are the worst because you come in at 1pm, like you would if you were playing, but instead of being in the dressing room and getting prepared you're just wandering around and doing the different duties injured players have to do. Watching the game is difficult as well, especially when the team is struggling. I've been there myself and I know exactly how the lads are feeling."
"Kav has asked me what I've learned during the time I've been injured and the main thing I would say is that I know now not to take anything for granted," he revealed. "I'm not saying I ever did, but I think back to how lucky I was to be playing every week and how much I was enjoying myself. I'll definitely make the most of every single day now because I've seen how easily it can all change.
"I've been ok in terms of motivating myself to go in the gym because that's something I do while I'm playing anyway. The only difference is that I'm going in twice a day rather than just after training. I think Monday mornings are the worst because you have to get your head round the fact you've got another week on your own."
"I've tried to just take it all week by week," he said. "It's easier now that I'm seeing some progress. During the first couple of weeks my knee was still weak but I'm seeing progress every day now which gives you motivation to keep working hard. I'm hoping to be back in training by the end of February but that can obviously change either way."
"I've been involved in a lot of first team games now and it's something I've absolutely loved," he told us. "I want to get back to it as quickly as possible but the team is the most important thing. If we're picking up points while I'm out then that's a good thing.
"Greg [Fleming] has been playing really well and I think it's a good thing that I'll be going back into training knowing I've got to give everything to make sure I get myself back in the team. There are a lot of keepers out there who want to be playing so I knew when I got injured that we'd probably have to bring someone in. Ben Amos played really well during his time here but competition is always a good thing. It will mean that if I do get back into the team then I'm worth my position."
"The Sunderland game was something I was really looking forward to," he admitted. "When the draw for it came out the date of the game was going to be comfortably within the time of me being back and fully fit. Obviously I then had the set back and, once I'd got over the shock of that, it also started to sink in that I wasn't going to be involved. I was gutted about that because it was such a big game for us.
"I went to the game and I thought everybody did the club proud on the day. I had mixed emotions because I was really pleased for the likes of Pottsy and Nobsa [Liam Noble] to get the chance to play in a game like that. Obviously Robbo [Matt Robson] got his goal and I was pleased that Greg did well because he's backed me all the way. On the other hand I was disappointed that I didn't get the chance. That's football and I'm just focused on getting back and getting some games towards the end of the season."
And on the current form, he said: "The lads were dusting themselves down in the dressing room this week and they were ready to go again in training. The fans are probably getting sick of hearing that, because we had a period like this last season, but I think we've proved we can put a run together.
"The Peterborough game was a great example of that. If everyone is fit and firing we're a good side. We'll be looking for another performance like that on Tuesday night and it would be nice to be able to fight for the chance to come back into a winning team."
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