Tom Clarke has finally been presented with his players’ player of the year award as he started his road to recovery at Springfields this week.
And speaking to PNE PlayerHD afterwards he explained that finding out he would be in receipt of a trophy gave him an important psychological boost after his operation.
“It was a massive honour,” said the PNE No.5. “It’s an award that is voted for by the players and therefore to receive that is right up there for me.
“As soon as I got the text and knew about it from the lads I was very proud. It means a lot to me to know that my fellow professionals have voted for it.
“I was down a little bit with the injury, but it picked me up and showed me that things aren’t too bad after all.”
The injury itself came out of the blue, with no-one near the Halifax-born defender at the time, as he explained: “It was a strange one. It just felt like someone had kicked me from behind, so I went down looking behind to see who did it, but once the physio came on and said that no one had kicked me, I knew that it was something serious,” he continued.
“It was difficult to comprehend what they were saying when I heard the news; but Jacko [Matt Jackson] had told me that it could be my Achilles and tried to get my head around it a little bit.
“It is disappointing and frustrating that it was so close to the end of the season, but that’s football and I went in, had the surgery, all went well and I am ready to start the rehab now.”
It will be an extensive period of rehabilitation that is now involved, with an eight to ten month recovery period suggested for the 29-year-old, who knows the physios are going to become close friends with him.
“It is mentally tough and there are going to be times when I am on my own and working hard, but that is football and that one aim is to get back out on the training ground first and then on Deepdale and getting back to doing what I do.
“Speaking to Jacko it is going to be a long road, but there is no one better to be working with and I will get back to my fighting best and better than I was before and that’s what I will be aiming to do.”
And the support from the North End fans has provided a further filip as he starts to put in the necessary work: “It has been a massive help to me; it is something that kicks you on and keeps you focused and keeps you ready to realise that aim of getting out there.
“The work has started now. That first couple of weeks of being stuck in the house are over. It is nice to be back in the training ground, seeing some friendly faces and getting back to it. I wanted to start the rehab as soon as I can and now I am ready for it,” he added.