Preston North End striker Louis Moult is ready to put the ‘most frustrating 12 months’ of his career behind him and looking forward with positivity to the 2020/21 season.
After nearly a year on the sidelines, the Lilywhites’ No.9 is closing in on a return to training with the first team and is hoping to be back in full-time with the rest of the squad before the new season kicks-off in mid-September.
Speaking to iFollow PNE as he worked on his rehab and fitness down at the Springfields training ground, the former Motherwell forward admitted he had come through some dark times in the last year, but was now excited for the year to come.
“I have probably had one of the most frustrating 12 months of my career,” said Louis. “It has been difficult; I will admit I have struggled at times and with Covid coming into play as well, it just didn’t help, it made my rehab stand still.
“I had fans tweeting me, thinking it would be helping me and that I would be back for the remaining games, but it was not the case. Without training and doing rehab, I was not able to get fit.
“But now, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, which I am really happy about. That has been the thing I have really struggled with. I got myself running a couple of months ago, but I had a bit of a set back and the light seemed to fade away, but now I am on the mend, running on the Alter-G and feeling a lot more positive about it now.
“I got back running and when I did the ACL it affected a few of the surrounding areas as well, so when I got back running I started to feel a bit of a niggle, but now once lockdown got eased, I managed to get in with the surgeon again and he cleaned it all up and since then it has felt a lot better.
“I feel a lot more positive about the situation now and my aim is to be back in with the lads in September, which I am excited about.”
His 2019/20 season ended with a positive, being awarded the PFA Community Champion award after another hard-working campaign off the pitch, something he was very proud to receive.
“I am extremely proud of that award; it is brilliant for me and my family to get a bit of recognition of the work I do off the pitch. I have always tried to do it throughout my career, I enjoy it and I will continue to do it.
“It is important we do our fair share. All of our lads dip in and do fantastic work for the community. We are lucky at this football club, where everybody buys into the community and we like to help and it is brilliant.
“We are looked at as role models, so if we can be positive and help he community, that is a big thing.
“Everyone has been through a difficult time with Covid; everyone was in the same boat, but for us as footballers, we were just trying to help out in any way we possibly could.
“People were stuck at home, in lockdown, and even if it was just a Skype or a Zoom call, it meant a lot people and everything we have been involved in, we have enjoyed doing as well.”
With the season start delayed by the late finish to last year, this has meant Louis has been able to target being back in full training before the Championship season begins, even it may take him a while to get back to match fitness, but that date is giving him a target to aim for.
“That’s what I am looking for,” he continued. “It’s the date I always had in my mind, to be honest. When I had the conversations with Jacko [Matt Jackson] and Tim [Horn, the two club physios], we always said it was important I took the 12 months.
“I probably could have squeezed in a few games around the ten month period, but the longer you leave it, the stronger the knee becomes and that was important, so it be a bit of a blessing in disguise that we have left it the 12 months and I shouldn’t be too far behind joining in with the lads.
“The plan is to be back up to speed and in with them quite quickly. It is going to be a bit of a different pre-season for the lads, but not really for me.
“I am in now, while the lads are off, trying to build my fitness up in the background, so I can be up there in the running and not lagging. Hopefully this stands me in good stead for when I can join back in, in September.”
So, has the time away from the game given him a hunger to get back playing and pulling on the lilywhite shirt? And has the support he has received from people outside the club been a big help?
“Massively for myself. I have struggled watching football, missing it so much; missing that adrenaline rush when I score a goal and play for PNE – I have missed that.
“Just recently I have started to watch it and I have got that feeling back, those butterflies back and I am really raring to go now and I think I am going to come back with even more hunger to succeed.
“It is going to be a big year for me; I am looking forward to the challenge and I am really hungry for success.
“I have had a bit of a stop start career at Preston, but that is how football goes. Before that I had probably gone five years only missing five games and then it has come at once, but now I am positive, looking forward to the new season and raring to go.
“When I have been feeling a little bit down and that light starts to fade at the end of the tunnel, I have thought about the good moments at the club and though ‘I can do it’ and my missus and my kids and my family have been a massive support for me.
“But also, the fans, I have had tweets and posts coming my way, wishing me well and giving me support, telling me to be patient, that I will be back and not to worry and that means a great deal to me and that has helped me to get through this.
“I know I am not quite at the end of the tunnel yet, but I am really positive that I can get and that I can get back scoring goals for this football club,” he added.