Flanagan: Exciting times - I'm fit again

Jon Flanagan.

It gave Jon Flanagan no end of pleasure to take a seat at Melwood and declare to Liverpoolfc.com that his knee injury is now firmly behind him.

Quite right too.

The popular full-back has been unable to make a single appearance forLiverpool in this campaign after suffering the problem in pre-season.

Good news for opposition attackers, spared the adroit positioning and thunderous tackles of the Scouser, has been bad for a defender poised to take the next step in his development.

Not that you'll ever find Flanagan dwelling on the misfortune. No, his focus remains fixed on grasping back the position he made his own in 2013-14.

It always was, which is why the chance to discuss a return - not rehabilitation - brings a smile to his face, and no doubt those of Liverpool fans.

"I'm very close - I've been doing light bits of training with the squad," says the No.38, spring very much in step.

"As of Friday, I'm back in full training with the squad, so it's good. I'm delighted. I'm 100 per cent now and it is exciting times. I'm back in training with the lads and feeling great.

"I can't rush it. I've got to bide my time; I'm obviously not match fit so I've just got to keep going and it will all come together nicely I think."

For even the most positive person, a long-term injury can test the mind, challenge the optimism and pile on frustration.

In Flanagan's case, the impact was compounded. Last season had been his breakthrough, establishing a regular spot under Brendan Rodgers as the Reds battled for the title.

England recognition followed. The stage was set.

"It has been frustrating," continues the 22-year-old. "I had a problem with my knee and thought I would be back a lot quicker than I have been.

"Everyone had a great year last year and we were unlucky in the league. For me personally it was a great season, to be in the squad.

"I wanted to kick on this year, but unfortunately with the injury I haven't. I would say it is the most frustrating season I have had to date.

"I have had a few setbacks along the way but my knee is fine now and hopefully I can just push on."

A silver lining in the cloud is the opportunity to examine other aspects of performance and areas of your individual game that can be fine-tuned through analysis.

Rodgers and teammates have naturally been pillars of support for Flanagan inside the training complex, dropping words of encouragement when needed.

He explains: "Watching the game and wanting to be involved is tough for any player.

"It has been tough but what has got me through it is keeping going, trying to see the light and get back in the team.

"You're not in and around the squad, you're training at different times and in rehab. So when you see them, it's always good to get nice feedback from them. They are always interested and have been a big help, as has my family.

"I've been speaking to Steve Peters - he has been helping me with the mental side.

"I've always been looking at my game since I've been out. The manager has told me to do that and look at what I can improve.

"Brendan has been great. When I see him every day, he is always telling me to keep going and keep fighting and I'll be back. He has been a massive help as well."

One player who understands exactly what the Englishman has had to bear to reach this point is Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.

The prolific finisher spent five hard months on the sidelines too, but launched his much-anticipated comeback with a goal at the end of January.

Flanagan is targeting a similarly seamless impact. "I don't know about scoring!" the young man acknowledges.

"But to see that he has been out that long, it has been frustrating for him as well, then to come back and score and be successful and everything OK with his injury, makes me look and want to hopefully do that as well.

"We have done rehab together. He is back now and fully fit. He keeps telling me to keep going and that I'll get there. He is always giving me advice and help."

Source: Liverpoolfc.com


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