This morning provided a landmark moment in Luke Berry’s rehab – as the midfielder took his first steps running on the grass since he suffered that season-ending dislocated ankle and fractured left fibula at Colchester on Good Friday.
While the rest of Nathan Jones’ promotion-winning squad have been heading off to all corners of the world on holiday, the Town midfielder has been grafting away at the training ground with physios Simon Parsell and Chris Phillips most days this summer.
Today the Hatters media team witnessed him volleying a ball back into Simon’s hands while doing running exercises on the Aerofloor mat provided by the Bobbers Travel Club’s hugely important contribution to the club’s medical and rehab equipment budget, then jogging on the Alter G machine that takes body weight away to aid an injured player’s return to running before taking those first steps back out on the green stuff.
“It’s the first time I’ve been out there and it’s coming on really well…I don’t think I’m too far off!” said the 25-year-old, laughing at Simon to underline his impatience at wanting to return.
“It’s been good progress,” interjects the physio, who won’t put any timescale on a return before accompanying Luke on his visit to see his consultant in London tomorrow.
“The man’s been a top, top patient to work with. From day one we’ve been like an old married couple. He’s put the graft and the work in and we owe a big thanks to Nima Heidari, the consultant who did all the surgery – he took control of the injury from day one.
“We owe thanks to Colchester United as well for their help initially, and Ipswich Hospital. But Nima took control of it and did the surgery a week afterwards, and we’ve had fantastic results so far. We see him tomorrow and hopefully he gives us the green light to push on even more.”
Asked what that green light will allow him to do, Simon – who says that Luke will be on the plane to Slovenia with the rest of the squad a month today to continue his rehab – explained: “The green light gives us more chance now to get back out on the grass, make it a little bit more football functional.
“That’s the whole idea of the rehab that we’re trying to do – make it football functional while throwing in hurdles as an obstacle.”
Luke has worn a permanent smile since he returned to the training ground just over a fortnight after suffering the injury, no doubt helped by being named in both EFL and PFA League Two teams of the season and being part of the promotion celebrations on the pitch at the Forest Green game and in St George’s Square the following week.
Despite having to look at the rest of the players’ holiday pictures and videos from red-hot resorts on social media while he’s been sweating in the gym, Luke said: “It’s actually been quite good. Simon’s brilliant to work with, and Chris as well – he’s been fantastic. It’s just a joy to be in every day.
“Every week I feel like I’m progressing. Last week there were exercises I couldn’t do, and this week I can do quite comfortably, so I feel progression, and that’s the main thing.”
And thanking fans for their constant backing since suffering the injury, he added: “The support I’ve had on Twitter and the cards I’ve received – I’ve still got cards here today – has been brilliant. It’s really helped. Si’s helped me through it as well and so far it’s been fantastic.”