After a long five months on the sideline defender Tom Lockyer returned to action yesterday, playing 45 minutes in the 4-0 pre-season victory against Rochdale at Queen Ethelburga’s College.
The occasion was one which Lockyer found ‘really enjoyable’ as he got match fitness into his legs following the injury he sustained against Cardiff City in February.
“It has been a long five months, the longest I have gone in my career without playing a game of football so to get back out there with the lads was a great feeling. The lungs didn’t thank me for it, nor the legs, but that is part and parcel of it and it’s about building steps now towards the start of the season.”
It was almost as if Lockyer hadn’t missed a game, getting straight into the action and making sure he made his feelings very clear to the referee and opposition players at times!
“I know it’s a pre-season friendly but when you cross the line, you are fully focused on the game so if someone needs shouting at, whether that is the ref or the opposition, even your own teammate, it is going to happen – friendly or not.”
The long road to recovery has been full of tough graft after spending weeks to prepare himself for Euro 2020, giving himself a fighting chance of being in the squad – which he was rewarded with!
“It was a great experience,” Lockyer said. “If I wasn’t going to be involved then I was going to be the biggest fan anyway. It was a massive honour to be involved and it is something I will cherish forever. Gutted not to get on the pitch but these are those things that happen in football. If you would have said to me after my operation that I’d be there and not play a minute, I would have bit your hand off either way.”
“I haven’t really had a summer because after the end of the season when all the boys were away, it was about trying to get fit to make that Euro’s squad so when I did, I was with them for eight weeks. My base fitness is relatively good, and it is just that match fitness now which is not something you can replicate in training.”
In terms of hopes for the season, the 26-year-old is optimistic the new arrivals at Kenilworth Road will have a positive impact for the Hatters.
“Good to see a lot of business getting done early, not leaving things to chance or waiting for things to happen, just being pro-active in the window which was fantastic to see. The new boys have come in and there are some good characters, big characters there, which have fitted in straight away.
"I think we’re quite easy as a group to do that because we’re very welcoming and a very friendly bunch. There are a lot of dynamic players in there which is very exciting for us, something we maybe lacked a little bit of last season. With the new signings I can only see us moving forward.”