When you’re part of team that are flying high and personally contributing to a terrific start to the term, the last thing you’d want to happen is to suffer a knee-shattering injury on a cold November night in training.
Well, unfortunately for Reds striker Ash Kelly, exactly that occurred last season.
The local lad was put out of action immediately and had to wait four months until he could get an operation to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate ligament, torn Meniscus and a small bone fracture.
Almost a full calendar year on, last Thursday, Ash stepped out of his car school with a grin you wouldn’t expect of someone returning, for the first time, to the place where their campaign was prematurely ended in such frustration fashion.
Kelly couldn’t keep his excitement in, though and took part in the early part of a training session before continuing his work with our physios, Ronan Irving and Caitlin Gribbon.
On Saturday, he was back at Borough Park to see us beat City of Liverpool 5-2 and before the match, caught up with us to talk about his lockdown lay-off and ongoing recovery.
“It’s been 10 months,” he sighed with a hint of exhaustion.
“I had my operation in February, so it wasn’t a bad time to get it done!”
“Now, it’s just nice to be back with the lads, even if it’s light training.
“It’s better than nothing to start with.”
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown saw football and medical practices, such as physiotherapy, stop for a prolonged period.
That meant Ash had a few months on focus at home, something he evidently engaged with.
“Once I had my op, it was just physio at my house,” he explained.
“I was focussing on taking it easy but getting where I needed to be so I could get back training as soon as possible.”
“It’s been long enough now!”
Reds continued their excellent campaign throughout Kelly’s initial time out, meaning he spent many-a-game sitting in the dugout watching the first-team lads warm up ahead of big Borough Park win.
It’s understandable that it was a difficult time for the striker but there was a wholesome silver lining from the sidelines.
“It was hard to watch because I wanted to be playing,” he admitted.
“But when the lads were winning, it was great.”
“I know the season finished in a bad way but the buzz around the place was fantastic.”
With last season now long gone, there’s no time like the present and Kelly is keen to get back on track as soon as possible.
“It’s like starting afresh again,” he said.
“I just want to take it steady, get back in training and hopefully in a few months, we’ll go from there.
“Hopefully, I’ll get back playing some time in the new year.”
Oh, and regarding the injury itself: “I’m going to see my surgeon next week for a check-up.”
“As for that, everything fine!”
Good to see you on the comeback trail, Ash!