Wide man Joe Thompson on getting back to full match fitness
Wide man Joe Thompson made his first start for the club against Cambridge last Saturday and capped an eventful week on Tuesday when he scored his first goal since he bagged a brace for Tranmere in a 3-3 draw against Crawley back in August 2013.
Thompson, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just weeks after playing in that game, signed a short-term deal with United following a successful trial period in the summer and has already made a positive impact in his new wing back role.
Speaking about his late goal at Plymouth, he said: “It was obviously something I’ve dreamed of for a long, long time. It didn’t come in the best of circumstances but it’s a positive for me. Hopefully I’ve got many more to come that I can chip in with.The last time I scored was just before I stopped playing, which is just over two years ago now, so it was a nice moment for me.
“I knew the game had gone when I got the goal but it was an achievement for me on a personal level. My family were happy for me, and everything like that, but obviously the most important thing is the team getting a win. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but I’m sure we’ll put it right on Saturday.”
“The game could have been dead and buried in that first half,” he added. “We hit the post and stuff like that and you could tell Plymouth knew it as well. It was a great goal from Jake Jervis, we can’t take that away from him, but it wasn’t really deserved.
“It was frustrating to watch and you just want to make an impact when you get on. The gaffer is trying to get it across that we’re trying to play a different style of football to what I think everyone was accustomed to last year. We’ll just make sure we tweak a few things and I’m sure we’ll start winning games.
“Stuff needed to be addressed following the game so we’ve been out on the training ground and we’re trying to put the wrongs right. I think getting the win would settle everyone as a collective.
“I know we played really well against Chesterfield but that was a cup game. When you look at the table you just want points on the board. We’ve been playing really well but we just need to put that little bit of icing on top of the cake.”
On his return to match fitness, he said: “I’m feeling very positive. It’s all little building blocks for me. I’m really grateful that it’s happening and, like I say, we just need to get those wins on the board and kick on.
“I think there’s still more to come. The game the other day was a bit of a surreal moment for me. It was a start for me and it took me back to how it felt when it was my first ever debut. I felt like I was starting afresh.
“It was exciting, it was nerve wracking and I was anxious, but it’s done and dusted now and I can move on. It was a barrier I needed to overcome. I wanted it to help with confidence in myself and in knowing that my body can cope with it as well. It was a big step for me.”
“As it got closer to me being substituted I was tired, but I was really enjoying it. We had a lot of fans there and obviously the game was a bit like my life has been over the last two years – it was up and down! One minute I was cheering and celebrating and the next minute my head was in my hands. It was one of those rollercoaster games but it was brilliant to be part of it.”
“I am really enjoying my football at the moment,” he confirmed. “I’ll always have a smile on my face because there’s no point walking about with a grey cloud over your head. There are worse things that can happen to people, trust me, so just keep smiling and keep believing.
“With the pre-season I’ve had I’ve probably surpassed where I thought I would be fitness wise. I was feeling good but not quite knowing what was going on with fatigue levels and being tired, and stuff like that. I’m probably feeling the best I’ve felt in a long, long time, to be honest.
“I’ve been given a new role to learn and it’s one I’ve never really experienced before. I’ve usually been on the right of a three up top, or on the right of a 4-4-2. It means I’ve got to look at more defensive duties, so it is new to me, but I’m more than willing to learn. It’s one where you’ve got to be super fit though!
“Overall it’s all very good and, as I say, I’m just grateful that it’s all happening for me. Hopefully I’ll keep getting better and better and I can help this team to push on.”
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