Dozzell on Track for Pre-Season Return
Thursday, 22nd Mar 2018 11:35
Midfielder Andre Dozzell says everything is on track so he will be able to play a full part in pre-season ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. The 18-year-old’s season was ended on the opening day when he suffered a torn cruciate knee ligament during the game against Birmingham City.
“Yes, definitely,” the England U19 international told BBC Radio Suffolk when asked if he’d be able to play a full part in pre-season.
“I don’t like looking too far forward but hopefully if all goes to plan the latest will be pre-season.”
The former Copleston High School pupil recently progressed to training on the grass at Playford Road.
“I’m now going outside, it’s feeling good at the moment,” he added. “I started going outside the other day.
“It felt a bit odd at first running, but as do it more often it starts to feel good, starts to feel more normal, although I’m blowing after a few runs, but that will come in due time.”
Has it been mentally tough? “I’ve had a lot of support from my family, the physios have been brilliant, but mentally it’s been pretty straightforward.
"I’ve had a few, not setbacks as such, but a few niggles here and there, but nothing major, it’s all been straightforward.
“I’ve been going to the David Lloyd gym quite a lot for swimming to get my fitness up and trying to get more muscle on me, but since I’ve been going outside it’s been different, it’s been quite hard to be honest.”
The academy product had praise for the Town medical team: “They’ve been great, they’ve been pushing me as well, trying to get me back out there. They’ve been keeping me positive.”
And he says manager Mick McCarthy and the squad have also helped to keep his chin up: “When I went outside to train for the first time they gave me a nice reception, giving me some banter.”
Father Jason, now a coach at the academy, having had experience of being injured during his career has also been beneficial: “Obviously he had a few injuries himself so he can tell me what it’s like, how to get back fit.
“You’ve just got to keep doing your rehab 100 per cent because if you don’t do it 100 per cent, when you’re back you could even do it again or do other injuries.”
He says ball-work will follow in due course: “I think in a few weeks or so but I’m not looking too far ahead at the moment, I’m taking it step by step.”
Dozzell admits he’s been frustrated having been unable to play for the best part of eight months: “I’ve missed it a lot. It would be great to be back out there with lads but I’ve just got to keep focused, keep working hard and hopefully I’ll be back out there next season.”
Was he aware how bad the injury was at the time? “Obviously I got the first knock and that was quite painful but the pain just went so I thought ‘play on’ and didn’t feel normal but thought I was fine, I even got on the ball after that and started running. But just when I twisted it absolutely went I knew then that it wasn’t good.
“It was a big blow [when I was told the extent of the injury] because it was a big season for me and I was looking to cement my place in the first team. But football isn’t straightforward, you’ve just got to deal with things like that and hopefully go again.”
The midfielder says he had a lot of support on social media from fans and also the Birmingham City team.
“Even a few Birmingham players sent me messages which was good,” he recalled. “That kept my hopes up and I just had to stay focused and come back as quickly as I can.
“They sent me messages on Twitter, which was a nice touch from them because they didn’t have to do that, but obviously when you see another player injured and out for the season it’s not nice.”
He says he has talked to another Playford Road graduate who has been in a similar positions: “I spoke to Connor Wickham, he did his knee, although a different injury, but he just told me that it’ll all be worth it in the end, you’ve just got to keep working hard, keep your head down.”
Despite the injury setback Dozzell says he sees no reason why he shouldn’t go on to fulfil his potential.
“I’m young and I’ve got a lot of times on my hands and when I see people who have done their ACL and come back and they’re still playing well, that gives me more confidence,” he continued.
Having followed in his dad’s footsteps and made his goalscoring debut aged only 16 at Hillsborough in April 2016 - “It was like it was always going to happen, both 16 years old, both playing for Ipswich, it was crazy” - Dozzell junior admits he was disappointed not to play more the following season.
“Yes, definitely, but obviously you’ve got to win the trust of the gaffer and if you’re not playing then you’ve just got to keep working hard and try and show the gaffer why he should be playing you,” he added.
While he has been working on returning to fitness fellow youngsters Tristan Nydam, 18, and Flynn Downes, 19, have broken into the first team.
“They’ve done brilliantly,” Dozzell enthused. “They’ve been getting call-ups for England and getting a lot of game time for Ipswich, which will help their improvement.
“We’re all young but we’ve all got a lot to improve. You see a lot of people when they’re young play a few games here and there but don’t go on to make a career, so we’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully get more games under our belts.”
Could the three of them work together in a Town midfield in the years to come? “I think so definitely, Flynn gets about, Tristan gets about, we all work hard and that’s what the gaffer likes.”
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