A cautious Stephen Gleeson knows there is still a lot of hard work to do before he is back to his best, despite marking his return from injury with a fine goal on Tuesday night.
Gleeson has been out of action for 11 weeks after suffering a broken foot in a freak training ground accident before Christmas. Following an operation and hours of work completing his rehabilitation programme, the Irishman returned to the fold some three weeks ahead of schedule.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the midfielder though, and Gleeson admits there have been lows during his recovery.
“It was amazing to be back out on the pitch. It was a long time coming. It was a difficult few months, I’ve been a nightmare at home, a nightmare in here and I have been itching to get back out.
“The physio team and I have worked really hard over the last three months and I’m well ahead of schedule. It is just great to be back out playing football again.”
The injury could not have come at a worse time for Gleeson, the 24-year-old was in the form of his life, bossing games and scoring goals, while the Dons were competing at the top end of the table.
The work that went into regaining his fitness took a lot of dedication and Gleeson was keen to praise the medical team of Simon Crampton, Adam Ross and Matt Willmott.
“I felt I was playing the best football I have played in my whole career,” Gleeson added: “I was scoring goals, I felt fit and then to have a freak accident like that was really tough to take at the time. I have matured a lot over the last two or three years and I know if I’d have had this injury two years ago there would have been a lot more arguing than there was!
“I think I have done well and the physio team have been excellent and I can’t praise them enough for how hard they have worked with me over the last few months.“
His comeback on Tuesday night stunned supporters, even more so when he scored the third goal of the night against Doncaster Rovers with his second touch of the game. Gleeson, though, is not getting ahead of himself, knowing that he will have to be patient and play a bit-part role in a number of games before he is able to start games again.
“I think I am 50 per cent fit, at the most. Hopefully by the Easter weekend I will be fit to start but there is still a lot of work to do with Damien –he will enjoy it and I won’t. I just need to take my time and hopefully there are no affects.
“Over the next few weeks I will be looking to build it up and hopefully by the double-header at Easter I can be fit to start one of those games.”