After his first start in a year, in the penultimate home game against Cardiff City, John Welsh put in an exceptional performance and was dubbed post-match by his manager as ‘The Wall’.
He has thoroughly enjoyed being back and part of the first team set up and when he spoke to The One And Only at the training ground last week, he was delighted to be putting the injury worries of the last 12 months well and truly in the past.
“It was a long time - a frustrating time - but I’m just glad to be back and you just try to put it all behind you,” he told the matchday programme. “I had to keep myself fit, keep my mind strong. I always felt I’d get a chance at some point when I came back. I knew if I got a chance – I had to take it. You have just got to make sure you keep taking your chance every time you get it.
“I’m not getting any younger so at times I was low and it was frustrating. I couldn’t wait to walk round – not even run – just to walk around with no pain or not fearing that something’s going to go again. It does play on your mind, but I had a great bunch of lads that I work with every day, good staff here who give me good advice and I would go home and I’ve got a great family who support me in everything I do.
“So I think everything was geared for me to come back and be okay. There were low points, but there was enough around me to put them low points to the back of my head. You come in and you’re laughing and joking with the boys, you’re doing good work with Jacko [physio Matt Jackson] and the staff; and I got constant feedback off the gaffer which helped a lot.”
The former Liverpool midfielder is enjoying the progress the team is making and is delighted to be a part of it.
“It’s buzzing at the minute with decent results and decent performances.
“Obviously the first half at Birmingham wasn’t as good as we wanted. I think that comes from the gaffer. I wasn’t in the dressing room at half-time, but the demand that he put on the players – and certain players – it’s brilliant. Not only that, you can put demand on people, but you want a reaction and that’s exactly what he got.
“Fair play to the gaffer and the lads for showing character to come back, it’s a tough place to go Birmingham, obviously they’re not doing as well as they probably want to be, but it’s a tough place especially being 1-0 down.
“The gaffer’s demanded a lot of us, he demands a lot from us every day, I think he demands high standards from each and every one of you, it doesn’t matter young, old, coming in injured, it doesn’t matter - he demands high standards and he wants them standards met.
“It’s helped massively with the whole squad - you can see that in performances, people are enjoying it. People are enjoying training, being creative – so it’s a great environment for young lads to earn their craft, but also for myself; it’s something different.
“Everyone’s enjoying it and that shows by recent results and hopefully we’ll keep that going because if that drops even slightly, the gaffer will be on us.”
There’s loads more from Welshy in Saturday’s edition of the matchday programme, plus we have interviews and features with Callum Robinson, Greg Cunningham, Sean Maguire, Darnell Fisher and former North End and Black Cats striker Chris Brown.
There’s all of this and much more in the 100 page perfect bound edition of The One And Only, available for just £3 from the Sir Tom Finney ticket office from Friday afternoon and from the sellers inside and outside the ground on the day of the game.