Stop-Start Season For Woolfenden So Far
Friday, 27th Nov 2020 12:18
It has been a stop-start season so far for Luke Woolfenden but the defender is hoping for a change of fortune for the remainder of a campaign in which he hopes to re-establish himself as a regular starter.
If, as expected, he lines up against Charlton at Portman Road tomorrow it will be only his fourth league start of the season, his absence being caused by a combination of injury and the need to self-isolate after being in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Considering Town’s home clash with the South Londoners will be their 14th league fixture, Woolfenden is anxious to make up for lost time.
“The story of my season so far isn’t too great to be fair,” he admitted. “I started it in the side then I got injured. Once I was fit again I had to bide my time because the boys were playing so well.
“Then, once I had got back into the side, I was forced to miss a big game like Sunderland because I was forced to self-isolate when I didn’t even have coronavirus, which is a bit stupid. But it’s just one of those things you have to deal with.”
While his period of self-isolation was something he could have done without, the good news is that the person who tested positive is back to normal. “Yes, she’s fine, she’s all good,” reported the former East Bergholt High School pupil who joined the club’s academy at the age of 11.
A lot of supporters were surprised by Woolfenden’s absence from the starting line-up against Shrewsbury last weekend and he recalled: “In the week leading up to the game I was still training by myself on the Monday and Tuesday before I rejoined the squad on the Thursday. I think I could have played but it was up to the gaffer to decide.
“Whether he thought I wasn’t fit enough or whether he was happy with the boys’ performance against Portsmouth in the FA Cup, they’re the games that I missed and it’s up to him really. He has made it clear since the start of the season that if you play well you’re in the team, so I don’t think there are any questions to be asked.”
Woolfenden, who has clocked up more than 100 senior games in his career, has partnered Arsenal loanee Mark McGuinness, 19, in most of his games this season. “It’s been good alongside Mark,” he added.
“A lot has been made of us both being young but I don’t really see myself as a young player any more.
“I’ve had my two loan spells at Bromley and Swindon, plus I played regularly the whole of last season. Mark’s a good player, good on the ball and in the air, so I’ve enjoyed it.”
Woolfenden was asked if it mattered that he was forming a defensive double act with so little senior experience and countered: “Look at our full-backs. We’ve got Wardy and Chambo either side of us – that’s enough experience!
“Like I said, I’ve had the two loan spells and I played the whole of last season. I know enough about the game and I would really call myself an experienced player now.
“I feel good right now. With the self-isolation it took me a bit of time to get back up to speed but the more games I get under my belt the better I will feel for it.
“We’ve been cursed with bad luck in terms of injuries this season but I’m not too sure there is anything that can be done to prevent them. It’s just one of those things – when your luck’s out it’s really out.”
The biggest sports news of the week was the loss of Diego Maradona at the age of 60 after he suffered a heart attack and Woolfenden said: “I wasn’t even born when he was the best player in the world but I’ve watched the videos and seen how great a player he was.
“There’s a video of him just warming up that’s amazing and another clip where he and his Barcelona team-mates are fighting with the opposition that tells you a lot about him.
“It’s easy to see why so many people regard him as the best footballer of all time but I wouldn’t know about that. These days it’s Messi or Ronaldo and I think Messi is probably the better of the two. But I actually prefer Cristiano Ronaldo just because he was at [Manchester] United.
“My dad’s from Manchester so I didn’t really have much choice. As soon as I was born it was always going to be United and no one else. That would be my dream cup draw – United against Ipswich – or even better a league fixture in years to come.”
Talking of the Old Trafford club, Woolfenden was also full of praise for Marcus Rashford’s achievement in forcing the government to perform a U-turn on their policy of free school meals.
He said: “The fact that Marcus can highlight the government’s shortcomings to help is unreal. They were saying ‘We can’t afford it’ and within a few days a footballer launches a protest to force them to change their mind. It’s mental.
“He’s done it with his high profile but even people with no profile can bring about change. It makes it easier, of course, if you are as well-known as Marcus and the impact is that much greater, but I’d be up for getting involved in something if I believed in it strongly enough.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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