Judge: I'm a Goal Away From Getting Back to My Best
Wednesday, 20th Mar 2019 15:32
Blues midfielder Alan Judge believes he’s only a goal away from where he was prior to the serious injury which saw him miss almost two years of senior football.
Judge, then a Brentford player, suffered a double leg break in April 2016 in a challenge with Luke Hyam at Portman Road when he was on the verge of a Premier League move and didn’t return to first-team football until January 2018.
The 30-year-old joined the Blues from the Bees for a nominal fee in January having been unable to nail down a regular spot in the team at Griffin Park.
His form for Town has seen the Dubliner called into Mick McCarthy’s squad where he will hope to add to his five caps and one goal when they face Gibraltar away on Saturday and then host Georgia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin three days later.
“I went out and played football and I’m really enjoying it at the minute, playing every minute of every game. I feel I’m not far off to where I was before,” PunditArena quotes Judge as saying at a Republic of Ireland press conference this morning.
“I had a hard two and a half years, I got back fit and I was sitting on the bench, it’s just the way it goes. The chance came up to go to Ipswich and play every week, and there’s no way I was going to turn it down.
“It’s great to be back playing football, I’m enjoying every minute of it. As I said, the last two or three years for me haven’t been the easiest. I’m enjoying my football now.
“I know we’re bottom of the league at Ipswich but I’m enjoying every minute at the moment and I think that’s the reason why I’ve gotten myself back in here and I’m starting to show what I’ve done before and I’m just a goal away from where I was before.”
He says the lengthy spell out has given him greater inner strength: “Without a doubt, I’m mentally stronger. I know Seamus [Coleman] has gone through the same thing, I had two years of it.
“The one thing I will say is that I had plenty of time with my family, I think they’re sick of seeing me at the minute.
“You go through tackles, you go through everything and you always think ‘am I going to get back to it?’ and it took me six or seven matches at Ipswich to realise I could get back to this. You do have mental challenges but I’m loving it at the moment.”
McCarthy, who came close to signing Judge twice at Town, recently compared Judge to Wes Hoolahan, a regular in the Irish side under former boss Martin O’Neill.
“I met him at Ipswich, but [Blackburn] paid him more money [in the summer of 2013],” McCarthy recalled. “He’s the nearest to Hoolahan that can play in the middle of the pitch — finds passes and he’s got a goal in him.
“Is he back to the form he was at [before the injury]? Not quite, because it looked like he was going to be a Premier League player. He was a long time out — he broke his leg at Ipswich and he’s back there now playing his best football. I know he’s enjoying it, I’ve seen him twice and he’s been excellent.”
Judge can see why McCarthy might make the comparison with the former Norwich man, from a couple of angles.
“We’re both small,” he laughed. “Nah but we’re similar players, it’s good to be compared to Wes. People might say we’re a little different in certain things but if I can do what Wes did when he played for Ireland I’d be delighted. I’m at a similar age to him where he started coming in and playing more games.”
Judge reiterated that he sees himself playing a role along the lines of Hoolahan’s but ultimately is pleased just to be back out on the field, wherever he might be picked.
“I do prefer playing as a number 10 but if I do get chosen out wide or anything like that I don’t mind as long as I play minutes I’ll be happy,” he said.
“If the manager wants me to do something then I’ll do it to the best of my ability, but yeah everyone looks at the squad and thinks they have a chance to play if that comes my way hopefully I’ll take it.”
Town are talking to Judge about staying at Portman Road beyond the end of his contract at the end of the season with the deal he signed in January having an option that the player has said is “more in the club’s favour”.
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