Steve On Comeback

Steve Lomas admits he had some dark days as he fought his way back to fitness - but never doubted his ability to complete the road to recovery.

"You do get moments where you are despondent but never in my mind did I think that I would never play football again," says Steve, who made his long-awaited return to first team action on Monday night at Charlton.

"The knee feels better than it has done for a long time and everything is focused towards getting back playing.

"It will take three or four games to get back into the swing of things - it might be a case of coming on as sub or going hell for leather for the first half and saying 'I'm spent'.

"90 minutes might be a bit too much for me, maybe not; you just have to grit your teeth and get the games under your belt.

"Someone said it was only 30 minutes on Monday but it felt like 90!

"I'm trying to get as many days training as possible. I can worry about things but it is not a problem and I'm just glad to be back playing - anything else is a bonus.

"It is up to the manager when he thinks I'm 100% ready. The difficult situation is to get fully match fit - to do that you have to play first team games so it is Catch 22, but I'm just glad to be back.

"Once you miss pre-season you miss it; you just try and catch up as best you can, and it is a gradual process; you might look at it in five months and say 'it is behind me'.

"I have had long term injuries before and it tests you out, though I've never had a knee injury; at times I thought 'this is not going to improve' and I didn't know if I would need more surgery."

He admits he wanted to play in the reserves on Tuesday evening but was advised not to risk it.

He reveals: "I have got a little problem with the soles of my feet, where there is inflammation. It is a tendon which runs up the arches of your foot and it can get very sore first thing so you have to be careful or it can get out of control.

"With the game being the next day they didn't want me to get an injury and that was another reason I didn't play two days on the trot - I would have aggravated it.

"It is between the physios and the manager; I would have liked to have had another game after so long out but there are other things to think of, even though I was dead keen to play in the reserves.

"You do pick up niggles along the way and John Green, every time I go in the physio room, looks at me and thinks 'not you again!'"

Although Steve has been involved in previous squads in recent weeks he admits: "I was brought along just to be kept involved, which was nice.

"If you'd said a while back I would be back before January I would have taken that but the thing that fools most people was that I waited three months before the operation.

"I sustained the injury on January 18th and had the operation on April 19th. That makes it look bad, as if it was nearly a year, but in truth there was an extra three months without having the surgery, so it was only seven months - and that isn't a bad recovery time."

But now he is ready to step up his programme after being out for so long, though he admits his delight at returning to action was tempered by the result on Monday night.

"First and foremost it is about the team; I am just part of that, and three points would have been very helpful to push us up the league.

"It was good for me to get back, obviously if we had won it would have been better because it felt like a defeat; to be 4-3 up with five minutes left and not win was pretty disappointing.

"But it was just nice to get back into the feel of things after so long out, though the game was pretty hard.

"Coming on as sub at any time is difficult but that was fast and furious."