First match action in seven months for midfielder
Double congratulations were in order for Matt Gill last night.
The midfielder, who missed a chunk of last season with a serious knee injury, played half an hour of the pre-season game at Clevedon less than 24 hours after his wife had given birth to their second child, Holly
“It’s been an unbelievable, and emotional, 24 hours if I’m honest. My daughter and her Mum are doing great and the fact that Holly was born on the same day as the Royal baby means I can claim the special coin that’s being minted to mark the occasion!
“Playing tonight, some seven months after my operation, was also very special. It’s been a long road, but it’s brilliant to get back and I’m so chuffed about the last 24 hours.
“Things have been going well with my rehabilitation programme and I have stepped up the work in the last two/three weeks and been training with the squad. About a week ago I was pencilled in for some game time tonight.
“I was a little bit nervous, if I’m honest, and the boys on the sidelines were giving me a little bit of stick! It’s been a long time since my last game and I felt so excited to be out on the pitch tonight.
“My knee felt brilliant and it was good to be a part of a good team performance because the young lads did really well tonight.”
The side put out by John Ward was a very young one and they did well in a fairly physical game.
“They stepped up to the plate in what was, especially in the first half, a very physical game. They rode that and then showed their quality after the break and it was really nice to play with them.”
Playing in a pre-season friendly is, of course, very different to playing in front of a large crowd for the first team but the signs are good for the future.
“We don’t know how they will react if they are in the first team, of course, but if they keep putting in performances like that they are only going to push the players who have the shirts. That’s a great headache for the manager to have because he wants the young boys to push everyone to ensure there is strong competition for places.
“It’s brilliant for everyone, really; I’ve always said that competition for places is a must in any football club and the young lads have shown tonight that they can perform really well.”
When interviewed a few weeks ago, he wasn’t sure whether or not he was going to be available for the opening fixture down at Exeter, even though he was desperate to appear against his former club.
“I’m still not sure about that one, but who knows? I would like to have been involved in the game on Friday, but that’s been called off now and the team on Sunday would, I imagine, be close to the one that will start the season down at Exeter.
“I do have a couple of weeks’ training under my belt but I need minutes on the pitch after being out for such a long time. I’m desperate to get back playing as soon as I can but I need to get minutes under my belt.”
Given the seriousness of his injury, he’s just glad to be playing again.
“Before the operation my knee was so bad after games that I thought that might be it as far as my career was concerned. I don’t like to think negatively, but when you have pain after games you do start to wonder. However, I received some really good advice from a top surgeon and my knee feels great again.
“All the hard work has been worthwhile and I’m really pleased with the way things have worked out. There was no pain at all tonight. I’ve done my rehab alongside some great lads especially, Matt Harrold. He’s come back flying, and hope I can do the same.”
An excellent club man, he had words of sympathy for Ollie Clarke, who now faces eight weeks on the sidelines following a hamstring injury.
“I’m devastated for Ollie, because he’s such a great lad and a really, really, talented footballer and it was looking as though he was going to get his chance at the start of this season.
“Still, he’s strong mentally and he will come back from this, as he did from his cruciate ligament injury. He’s a great lad and an outstanding footballer and I wish him a speedy recovery.”