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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been able to play

Josh Dixon on injuries and making his debut

25 May 2021

Local-lad Josh Dixon has had to show an unbelievable amount of patience over the past few years having suffered a double ACL injury which hit the pause bottom on his blossoming career.

The 20-year-old had the nightmare of two seasons of rehab to battle through, having penned his first professional deal with the club at the end of the 2018/19 season.

His first cruciate ligament scare was during the following pre-season, but he worked hard to overcome it, and was the man-of-the-match in a friendly against Hibs the following summer.

But disaster struck when he limped out of a training session later that same week, with confirmation quickly following that the ligament had been damaged once again.

Frustrated but undaunted he knuckled down, and can now be found chomping at the bit as he looks to add to the four senior appearances he made for the club last season.

With a two-year contract secured and better days on the near horizon, we took a look back at what had been a tough period with him at the end of the last week.

“It is hard to go through something like that, especially when you’re watching the other lads go out to train and all you want is to be with them,” he admitted. “I think a big part is accepting that once something has happened, you can’t change it or take it back. I’m always motivated and I never thought at any point that this was going to finish me.

“The only thing you can do is be positive. Just because I’ve had two big injuries doesn’t mean I can’t overcome them and do what others are doing, and show that I can play in this league or higher. You’ve just got to keep working hard and stay positive no matter what happens.

“Even after the second injury, I really am the type of person who thinks, well, it’s happened now, I can’t go back in time. I knew I had to keep going and get on with it.

“I was in the gym constantly after the operation and you have to tell yourself not to give up. Hopefully that will now pay off for me.”

But any setback brings with it the challenge of those days where, quite naturally, you wonder if there’s even any point in getting up, and he confirmed that the support he’d received was important in helping him through those moments.

“I think I had one or two off days, but I think that’s bound to happen when you’re out for such a long time and you aren’t even able to train,” he confirmed. “There was four or five months where it was just gym work, and it can get difficult to keep going every day.

“Getting back out on the grass is a huge moment, and as soon as that happened I felt ready. I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way, probably too many to name, but obviously the physios I’ve worked with have been great.

“Dolly was great with me when he was here, and Ross and Greg have been the same since they came in. Gav Skelton did loads of one-on-one stuff with me during the close season last summer to make sure I was fit.

“My family have been a massive help as well, they’ve really kept me motivated and positive. I can’t thank them enough. And the fans on social media have been superb, they’ve been really positive every time something has been announced.”

And last November brought the ultimate reward for the work done and the attitude shown when he made his debut for the club, coming on for the injured Connor Malley with just 16 minutes on the clock in the Papa John’s Trophy game against Aston Villa.

“That was just brilliant,” he told us. “It was unexpected at first because Connor went down injured really early in the game.

“From there I took a little bit of time to think about how fast the game was, and things like that, but as it went on it felt like I’d never been away. I think I’ve always been quite good at dealing with big occasions, I don’t tend to get that nervous.

“You obviously do a little bit, but as soon as I got on I knew I had a job to do. It was good because it meant I’d overcome everything that had been thrown at me and I was just ready to prove what I can do on the pitch.

“The first game coming back is always a big one. I pulled up with cramp a few times, but I got through it and I think that was always going to happen. I really enjoyed it and being involved in a good win made it even better.”

Three more appearances followed last season, including his league debut in the 4-0 home win over Stevenage.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been able to play,” he said. “Once you get those chances you just want more. I think I was unlucky a few times not to get into the squad on a match day, but I never stopped working hard in the gym or doing extra stuff after training.

“I kept going and I managed to get an appearance at the end of the season where I felt like I did well. I just want to push on now and see where I am at the start of the season. I’ve seen other lads my age do well and I just want to do the same.

“Taylor [Charters] has played a few games and done well, and it just shows you that young lads can do it if we work hard and do what the gaffer asks. This coming season I want to be more consistent and get a lot of game time under my belt.

“I do think I was close to more last season, but the postponements didn’t help. All of that was really frustrating to be honest. All of the little chances and appearances I’ve had just make me want more of the same. It all needs to turn into something bigger, but I know it’s over to me to produce it next season.”

And we couldn’t let the matter of having made his first appearances for his hometown club to pass without finding out what it’s like for a Carlisle boy to pull on the blue shirt.

“Ever since I first joined when I was nine I’ve seen so many people come in and out,” he commented. “To play for Carlisle United is a massive thing for me because it’s my boyhood club. I can’t wait to have even more of it.

“As soon as I started playing football I just wanted to keep going up the ladder as much as I could. I started off playing locally, but I only did that for a couple of seasons before I got picked up by Carlisle.

“I’ve been in the academy since then and I managed to make it through. It’s even better because everybody I know is a Carlisle fan. My granda was the biggest fan in my family so I used to come to the matches with him.

“As I got to secondary school [William Howard] all my mates are massive Carlisle fans so we started coming, and I think in my school team there was five or six of us who were in the academy.

“I managed to get the scholarship when I finished school and when I made my debut all my mates were watching, and it was a really proud moment. It all means a lot to me and my family.”


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