Byron Webster says he can use the recent recovery process from his long-term knee ligament injury to support teammate Tom Bradshaw.
Striker Bradshaw underwent an operation earlier this week to begin his rehabilitation from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage, sustained a fortnight ago in The Lions’ trip to Brentford.
Webster suffered a near-identical setback last season during a match at The Den against Bradshaw’s former club Barnsley, and explains the bizarre nature of the injury in that it can often be largely unnoticeable when first picked up.
“It was strange finding out about Bradders’ news, as everything was very similar to my injury,” the defender states.
“When it happened to me, I played the rest of the game, did the running afterwards, and felt next to no pain – it’s crazy.
“We came in for training on the Monday after the [Brentford] game, and he just said he had a sore knee or a dead leg – at least that’s what I thought. Then afterwards, he got the bad news that he’d damaged his ACL. Obviously, it’s not a good time for him and his family, but we know he’ll get through it.”
Webster says he and Bradshaw have discussed the similarities between their injuries, and claims that the physically painful part of the process follows the required surgery.
“His injury is an isolated ACL like mine was – so the rest of the knee around the ligament is fine, which again is strange. Usually with this sort of injury there are other areas around it that become affected. We were actually joking together yesterday about how you walk into the hospital operating theatre with no pain; then you come out after the surgery on crutches and in agony.
“You would think that you’d be in pain getting injured, but for me personally I was in no pain until after the operation, then it eventually dies down and Bradders has been the same.”
The centre-half touches on how he has progressed into this season – returning to competitive football in the Carabao Cup before being eased back into Sky Bet Championship action – along with analysing the targets involved in returning to full fitness from a long-term setback.
“Hitting targets in my rehabilitation was what got me through my recovery. I’ve said to Bradders that there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a long slog, but he has good support around him from his family, teammates and the medical staff who will get him through it.
“Everything from walking properly to jogging and then running, getting out on the grass and touching the ball – there are so many little targets which works as a positive, as you can see your progression.
“The biggest joy for me was being able to join in with the boys. There have been plenty of days with me and Bloomy [Laurence Bloom] running around a pitch and doing fitness drills, and you’re looking over at the lads – you’re just itching to get over there with them. Maybe I’m still not back to ‘full’ fitness, but I’m getting there every day and it’s brilliant.”
Webster finally stresses the importance of a close support network for Bradshaw, and uses the example of recent England goalscorer Callum Wilson to show how players can be motivated to return an even better player.
“Everyone’s behind Bradders. We were all shocked, really. He’s just come through the door and the injury has come from nowhere, and it’s a long time he’ll be out of the squad as such. But the team will always be there for him.
“Staying strong and having that support is the main thing. Luckily for me, I don’t go on social media much or read too much nonsense from people, and that could help him – there will always be doubters and negative people along with all the positive, but he has to stay strong.
“As long as Bradders puts the hard work in, it’ll be easy in the end for him to get back to his best. When you look at Callum Wilson, for example – he’s done it two or three times and now he’s scoring on his England debut. Putting the work in reaps the rewards. He’s got great people around him like I’ve said, and I know what he’s going through – he’s going to be fine and come back stronger.”