Tom Bradshaw has described his return to full pre-season training with his Millwall teammates as “the best feeling”, and claims he feels increasingly sharp as the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season approaches.
The 26-year-old arrived at The Den in August last year from Barnsley, but was struck down by a devastating knee ligament injury – the operation from which ruled him out for the remainder of last season.
Bradshaw is now eagerly anticipating his comeback to action, and describes pre-season training with his teammates as the “most enjoyable experience” so far of his time with The Lions.
“It’s the best feeling to be back out there training with the lads and enjoying my football,” the striker told millwallfc.co.uk.
“It’s probably the first pre-season that I’ve come back really looking forward to the hard graft this time of year which comes for any footballer. For me, it’s been the most enjoyable experience I’ve had since I’ve been at Millwall – the relief to be back out there after so many months out injured.
“I feel great. The last two months or so of my rehabilitation involved a lot of fitness work and short, sharp stuff, so I’ve almost been in a pre-season for the last few months. It’s much the same as what I’ve been doing already, except now I have some mates to do it with.”
Bradshaw explains how emotionally tough the lengthy rehabilitation process can be, and credits the support of the rest of the camp at Calmont Road.
“It was tough, of course. I was lucky in the sense that my daughter was born a few weeks after my operation, so I had a big distraction.
“I could focus on my rehab when I was here, but when I got home, I didn’t have much time to dwell on it. But having said that, it was still a really long time of ups and downs, and it was much a case of focusing on the next week rather than the bigger picture. If you think about the injury – especially in the early days – it was quite daunting. I’ve had down days where I’ve just been desperate to be outside, and I’ve been in the gym and running on my own.
“You do feel isolated, although the gaffer and the lads have been brilliant with keeping me involved. But when you’re doing things on your own day-in, day-out, you miss being part of the team. That’s the biggest aspect that I missed. Like I’ve always said, I just kept my head down, did what I needed to do and hopefully I’m back for good now.”
Able to spend his first full pre-season with Millwall this year, Bradshaw is relishing the opportunity to concentrate solely on the season ahead.
“When I look back on my career, I look at the years when I’ve had a full pre-season and no transfer speculation typically as my better seasons.
“Now I can just focus on my football, what the gaffer wants me to do and I think that’s the foundation for a great season.
“I’ve learnt a lot whilst on the sidelines, but ultimately you learn the most being out on the pitch and playing with the lads. I feel like I’ve got a good understanding of what the gaffer wants and it’s just about putting that into practice now.”
The forward finally states how he wishes to replicate some of the form shown by departing Lions duo Lee Gregory and Steve Morison in recent years, and is eager to resume his hard work for the shirt.
“They’ve been unbelievable for the club during the time they had here, and it’s big boots to fill.
“But I understand what the gaffer wants from me, I understand how important it is for a striker to get goals, run the channels and do a job for Millwall.
“I’m excited to do my best at achieving at least half of what Gregs and Moro have done for the club.”