Edinburgh City captain Josh Walker admitted the 2017/18 season has been the toughest of his career thanks to a persistent knee problem.
James McDonaugh’s team secured their Ladbrokes League Two safety with a 1-1 draw up in Elgin last weekend, ensuring a third successive season as an SPFL club next term.
As club captain, Walker is obviously delighted that’s the case but, from a personal point of view, this campaign has been a challenging one. “For me personally, this season’s probably been the most difficult one of my career,” said the Geordie. “I’ve been playing with an injury pretty much all season.
“I’ve had this problem with my knee for about five or six years – patella tendonitis. It’s one that comes and goes but this season it just didn’t seem to go away and I was playing with it probably since about September.
“It was getting to the point around Christmas where it was as if I was playing on one leg. I wasn’t able to turn, I wasn’t able to function – I wasn’t able to do anything that I can do on a football pitch and it was really starting to get me down.
“I started having a couple of injections before games to get through them but it got to the point where I wasn’t doing myself or the team any favours at all. With being captain, and the type of person that I am, I want to play. I hate missing football and I’ve missed so many games over my career because of injury, and this one I felt I could try and manage but it got to the point when I couldn’t any more.”
What Walker needs is rest, and getting the job done in the Highlands last weekend will allow him that. “I spoke with the gaffer a couple of weeks ago and we agreed that I’d be on the bench at Elgin and we’d go from there,” he explained. “If things went our way, which they have done, I would sit out the rest of the season and get myself prepared for pre-season.
“The club’s been excellent with me – the chairman, the staff, everyone has been excellent since I came in and I want to repay them with the performances I know I can give, but I can’t if I’m only playing at 40 or 50 per cent.
“If I can get myself in the condition I was in last season and the beginning of this season, then I know I can do that.
“I’m still working hard with physios, with knee specialists etc. It’s not going to be a long-term problem – it’s just something I need to get settled. It’s getting the right rest and at the same time getting the right exercises in at the right time.
“That’s something I’m doing now and with there being two weeks left of the season plus the break until pre-season, that’ll give me about eight weeks that I’ve never really had to get it right. The plan is to come back flying and hopefully have a really good season next season.”
While that will mark the Ainslie Park club’s third as a league club, Walker is reluctant to assert that they are now established as such. “You could maybe say that and it as obviously the club’s main objective,” he said. “There’s a lot of established clubs in this league and we’re still probably the new boys. The first season coming up and staying up was brilliant, but the second season, no matter who you are, is always the toughest.
“Now we’ve managed that, we’ll sit down with the gaffer and talk about our objectives for next season. I’ve always said since I joined this club, there’s big ambitions here and if we can get things right on and off the pitch, then hopefully next year we won’t be hanging on until March and April to see if we’re staying in the league.”
Walker’s absence against Clyde tomorrow and Peterhead on the final day will be more bearable with safety secured.