Louis Moult has spent the last 18 months visualising scoring for PNE again – and now that dream is closer.
In August 2019, the striker was looking forward to a solid season having scored in the 3-0 win over Wigan, his first start of the campaign.
His second start, in the next match at Swansea, ended in a horrific left knee injury – he suffered cruciate ligament damage alongside other complications - which has required a number of operations and meant the initial timescale of ten months out turned into a lot longer.
The 28-year-old has at last returned to training, is getting match fit and has a massive smile on his face.
“I am good now, it’s been a long 18 months but I am good,” said Louis. “How I got through it is a good question!
“I got through it thanks to my wife, my two girls and our new puppy, a cockapoo called Teddy, named by the girls. He has certainly helped the stress levels!
“It has been down to my family more than anything. I think it makes you realise how important family is, this whole Covid time has.
“There have been some really difficult times, but now I am out the other end, back in full training and really enjoying it.”
He admits when he initially did the injury, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for him.
“Before I got injured, I had forced my way into the team and was performing the best I have since I had been at the football club so the injury came at a bad time.
“Initially I knew the injury would be nine or ten months out after speaking to the physios and realising the complex injury that it was. We knew it would wipe out that first season and I got my head round that.
“But when it started to drag on and I had complications, it was very frustrating. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, but I tried to wake up every morning and crack on and be better.
“It took time, but I feel better now, a lot more confident.”
He talked to Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop, who both had ACL injuries in the last couple of seasons, and that helped.
“Billy and Josh spoke to me quite a bit about the slight feelings I was getting such as every time I stood up my knee would click. Initially it was scary, but they told me that’s normal and their knees still do it!
“It was getting used to the new normal and they reassured me that little clicks were part of the process.”
He stayed away from social media as he dealt with the lengthy absence.
“Around six months ago, I would have sounded different, I tried to drift away in the background and focus on myself and not put much out there.
“There was a lot of people asking about my injury, but I didn’t want to say anything, I wanted to get a few weeks of training under my belt which I have and hopefully now I will go from strength to strength and be involved in the matchday squad sooner rather than later.”
He said returning to training was a massive boost.
“It was a good moment, the lads give me a round of applause and training with the lads was a great feeling again. I have played in a behind-closed-doors friendly and got a couple of goals so that was another step in the right direction which is a massive confidence boost for me.
“I am fully confident and focused on being the same person I was before I got injured, scoring goals and being the player I was. I am working tremendously hard to be that person.
“Obviously there have been a lot of changes on and off the field in the last 18 months and I have felt helpless, as I wasn’t involved and couldn’t help the team.
“But I have tried to stay positive for the majority of the time and, when it’s difficult, I have my family and the puppy.
“I am now raring to go and I have visualised scoring again a lot in the last 18 months.”