Mark of respect

Mark Noble has spoken about his incredible return to action just 12 days after having his appendix removed.

The 23-year-old midfielder was voted man of the match against Blackpool on Saturday and showed no ill-effects despite still having the stitches from his surgery in his side. It was a remarkable feat.

Noble had reported for training on Monday 1 November feeling unwell - but put it down to a seafood meal he had eaten the previous night.

When his symptoms persisted and with head of medicine Andy Rolls concerned by his discomfort, club doctor Ges Steinbergs was called to the training ground. After running a few tests, the doctor felt urgent hospital attention was required.

"It was very painful," said Noble, as he recalled that day. "I was in agony. Ges said we have got to go right now. He chucked me in his car and it ended up that in a couple of hours i was on a drip and in a hospital bed about to have an operation."

Noble was only told afterwards how serious a situation he faced. "The surgeon came up after and he said that it was a couple of times the size it should have been. He found poison around the area. He said it was within hours of bursting and if it does you are in a lot of trouble."

Thankfully, the danger was averted and Noble was able to make that playing return less than two weeks later. "If it wasn't for Ges noticing it so quick then I could have been in a bit of trouble. Also I have got to say a massive thanks to the surgeon. To play a full 90 minutes after 12 days and feel fine, it is a credit to him."

He was in hospital for a couple of days before returning home to recuperate. However, by the following Saturday he was itching to get back in action. "I had [the operation] done on the Monday. I went in on the Saturday when we played at Birmingham and did a 15-minute bike ride which felt OK.

"It was a little bit painful but OK. The plan was to train on the Thursday before the Liverpool game [next week]. It then came to the Thursday just gone and I felt fine. I said I wanted to train. They said 'No, that's impossible, you can't do it'. I said 'I feel OK, I feel all right'. So I trained and played. I felt good and ended up playing today. I volunteered myself."

The club's medics fully consulted the surgeon before clearing Noble to play and were told there was no risk. Even so, Noble played despite the physical signs of the operation still being very visible.

"I have got an inch-long scar with dissolvable stitches and because it has been so quick they haven't even dissolved yet. That is how quick it has been. It has felt fine. No one knocked it [in the match] and I didn't think about it to be honest. I felt fine and once your adrenalin is going you forget about things like that."

In fact, all that concerned Noble in the aftermath of the game was the failure to take three precious points - and the boyhood fan and longest serving player could not hide his disappointment. "I really enjoyed the game but we never got the points. Everyone is gutted, devastated but we have got to push on.

"A club like this with the players we have got, we know we shouldn't be in this position. I have been in this position for three of the last four seasons and something has got to be done.

"We have got to turn it around ourselves this year. Something has got to be done. We can't keep going through this. It is too good a club. We have too many good people here and too good a staff. We just need to start getting some points."