Thomas 'nightmare' nears end
Injured Saints defender Wayne Thomas is ahead of schedule in his bid to get back to full fitness, and he looks set to return to action six months earlier than expected.
The long-term absentee has been sidelined since October after suffering a micro-fracture and undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
The 29-year-old has already amazed doctors with his speedy recovery, and Thomas has now set himself a Spring target for a gradual return to training.
Talking to the club's official website, Thomas gave an in-depth interview about his injury and the long road to recovery.
"When I first got injured I thought I was only going to be out for six months," he explained, "but then after the operation they said it would take 12 months. I was obviously devastated, but I have managed to heal well and cut that time down."
Whilst exact timings are obviously only a rough guide when it comes to long-term injuries, Thomas now hopes that he is nearing the end of a 'nightmare' spell on the sidelines.
"It's been massively frustrating," he admitted, "because you know about the quality in our squad and how good we could potentially be. Its just not been going too well for us but I have just wanted to be involved, so it's been an absolute nightmare."
The Gloucester-born player has only made one appearence this season, playing 90 minutes in the 2-0 win over Birmingham City in the League Cup back in August. His injury then occurred on the training ground two months later.
"I went up for a header. There was no-one around me and I just landed awkwardly and had a bit of cartilage damage. It was just one of those bizarre training ground incidents."
Scans later revealed major bruising to the cartilage in his left knee, meaning that a micro-fracture operation would be needed, and knowing he would be out of action for several months, Thomas was advised to have an old injury seen to at the same time.
"I damaged my cruciate before when I was at Burnley, but I was basically able to play on for three years without a cruciate ligament as I had strengthened the muscles so much that I was told that I didn't need an operation.
"When your cruciate goes your knee normally gives way, but when I landed badly in training the specialist said that I didn't need to have it done but it could prolong my career by three or four years if I did. I decided that if I was going to be out for three months with the proposed micro-fracture I might as well combine the two."
Several months down the line and Thomas is well ahead of schedule, but he has been unable to rush any comeback due to the opposing needs of his seperate knee problems.
"The two things I had in my knee both needed opposite treatments, which made things awkward," he explained. "The micro-fracture needed me to rest whereas the cruciate needed exercise, so to be so far ahead of schedule is really good.
"I've just taken a couple of weeks off because I was getting a little bit of discomfort in the micro-fracture side, but I was as far as I could go physically and I was lifting more weight than I was before the operation.
"I needed to run but couldn't because of the fracture so the surgeon advised me to back off it for a couple of weeks and now it seems alot better.
"I was jogging yesterday with Mo Gimpel (Saints' Head of Sports Medicine) for seven to ten minutes and that's as much as I've done running wise. I've done work on the bikes and cross-trainer and plenty of swimming, but running is one stage further so it was nice to have a jog."
Whilst Thomas has been on the sidelines, there has been another change at the helm with Mark Wotte replacing former boss Jan Poortvliet as Head Coach. However, Wotte has made sure that Thomas has been kept in the loop throughout.
"Mark Wotte has had a chat with me and he made us all feel included. Training seems more organised and you can see that the lads are responding to that.
"The result against Preston was a massive boost for everyone and hopefully if we can put a little run together now we can get ourselves out of this position. That's all we need to do and get the points in whatever way we can.
"I've set myself a goal of April 1st to work towards a start to training which is almost exactly six months since it happened. I just want to get back playing and hopefully if I can even help us get away from trouble then that'd be great, but it's not something you can rush.
"Just getting back into training by April would be brilliant and if I could get a couple of games in before the end of the season it'd be even better."
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