As far as injuries go, Josh Walker has had to overcome some of the toughest in the game.
However, the Edinburgh City skipper admits his team-mates’ endeavours this season have made the recuperation process a little easier to bear.
The 29-year-old Englishman, who was enticed to the Capital by former manager Gary Jardine in January last year, has been forced to watch in awe as City have exceeded expectations in both league and cups.
The Citizens lead Ladbrokes League Two, two points better off than nearest challengers Peterhead. There’s also the small matter of an Irn-Bru Cup semi-final showdown against Welsh opponents Connah’s Quay Nomads to come in February. And let’s not forget a William Hill Scottish Cup third-round replay against Inverness of the Championship in the Highlands on Tuesday night.
For Walker, though, his season was brought to a halt just 70 minutes into the Betfred Cup opener at Clyde in July – the knee injury that dogged the former Middlesbrough and Aberdeen player last year making an unwelcomed return.
“I’m so pleased and proud of the lads the way they have gone about their business so far this year,” Walker explained to the Evening News. “They have been absolutely brilliant. I’m sure being injured would have been even harder had we been struggling at the foot of the table again. As much as I would have loved to have been part of the team in what they’ve managed so far, it’s given me time to really concentrate on myself. I can’t take any shortcuts with this.
“Frustrating is not the word. Due to the position the club were in last season, I ended up taking injections before games just to get me through. It was a nightmare. I rested up during the off season and I felt really good. But because I went from nothing and then into pre-season, I just completely broke down again after four or five sessions.
“But I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The rehabilitation has gone really well. I would say it is weeks now which is great. I can almost see a date to be back involved in training with the lads again. Everything has gone to plan so long may it continue. It’s getting closer. It’s not just the work I’ve put in, the physios and the club doctor have been absolutely brilliant so I can’t thank them enough for their efforts.”
Walker continues to attend all City games and he will there tomorrow as Queen’s Park are the visitors to Ainslie Park on League Two duty. “It’s great to be looking down at the other clubs as opposed to looking up,” Walker said. “That brings a different type of pressure. We need to deal with being the leader of the pack.
“We’ve already surpassed the total number of points we managed last season so that just shows how big a turnaround it’s been at the club.
“As much as the players deserve credit, the gaffer (James McDonaugh) has been phenomenal for what he has done. He came in to a difficult situation last year and I’m sure he would be the first to admit that. But he’s assembled his own squad and has his own ideas. We’ve bought into that.
“I believe these players could and should be playing at a higher level and that’s a recipe for success. I need to give myself a chance to get back into the team and if I’m not at my peak then I don’t deserve to play. Just because I am the club captain doesn’t give me any right to play. I need to earn it and I am determined to show everyone the player I am.”