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James Shea | "I will be back!"

27 April 2022

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Goalkeeper James Shea knows it’s going to be a long road to recovery but vows to be back after his season-ending injury against Cardiff City.

The 30-year-old suffered a serious knee injury minutes before half-time in Wales after colliding with Tom Lockyer in the area when attempting to gather a cross.

His initial fears were later confirmed after it was announced he would undergo surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process as he recalled the moment earlier today.

“It has been over a week now so it has settled down. It was a tough couple of days after just trying to accept what happened but it’s part and parcel of football. Many people have had it before, it’s going to be a long road to recovery but the main thing is I will be back.

"When it happened, you heard all these noises – clicking, popping and all sorts. Locks (Tom Lockyer) even said it to me he heard it, but at first I thought I did my knee, my shin and my ankle, I thought I did the lot to be honest. My ankle came back, my shin came back, and my knee just felt funny. It was just before half-time so I was thinking just get to half-time and see how it is.

"I’ve got up, the ref gave me the ball and I thought it was a goal kick. I then realised the ball was in my hands so I’ve got to kick it, I’m thinking to myself ‘this isn’t going to go well here’. As I’ve kicked it, I felt my knee go a bit funny and I thought ‘no, I can’t carry on’, I sat back down and then unfortunately had to come off which I was gutted about.

“I wanted to try and tell myself it was nothing bad, nothing serious but deep down, I knew I’d done something. You heard the click and the pop, and it was really painful at the time. I just wanted to get to half-time and see how it is but as soon as I kicked it, I knew I was in trouble.”

Fear grew in his mind whilst considering his contract at the club, but those fears were cast aside after it was confirmed he would sign a new deal to remain at Kenilworth Road.

Speaking on just how much that decision meant to him, Shea said: “It’s massive. They were absolutely brilliant with me. Straight away after the game I had a message from my agent Bill saying that Gary (Sweet) had phoned him up, explained everything and said not to worry, we will sort him out, it’s not a problem.

“Couple of days later, Paul Watson called me and said the same thing and it has been the easiest thing ever. I’m not going to lie it was a worry, I remember walking off at Cardiff thinking I could be bang in trouble here because I could have done my knee, I’m out of contract in the summer but they’ve taken that worry completely away from me. The gaffer was brilliant as well, all I have to do is concentrate getting my knee right and that’s it.

“I spoke to Gary, I rang him just to thank him and he said you were going to get one anyway so why should we stop it because you got injured, which is nice to hear. I can’t thank them enough.”

Team-mate Glen Rea is also on the treatment table with the same knee injury and Shea is pleased he has a familiar face to get through his recovery stage with.

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“It’s going to take time but I have everyone behind me which is massive. Glen has got to have his op because he’s done the same thing so me and him are going to be partners for a good few months, push each other, probably get on each other’s nerves at some point, but we will both help each other through it all.

“Glen has done it and come back. He was brilliant so you take inspiration from Glen, he came back and showed what he can do and that’s what I want to do.”

Harry Isted is now deputising in his absence and the former Arsenal youngster is right behind his colleague and friend as the Hatters enter the last two matches of the regular Championship season.

“We signed at the same time and we’ve been through everything together. Honestly I couldn’t be more happy for someone, he deserves it, he works hard every single day and he’s been brilliant. Coming in against Chelsea, brilliant, against Cardiff the other day, brilliant. Started his first game and he was absolutely brilliant. All he can do is what he’s doing and like I said, he’s been top class.

“We all push each other and that’s what we’re there to do. Whoever is playing we back whoever’s playing one million percent. It is Harry’s turn to play and everyone, including myself, will be behind Harry one million per cent.”

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Speaking after the Blackpool match on Saturday, manager Nathan Jones said of the contract offer: “We were going to do it anyway, so what you don’t do then is think ‘Well, ok you’ve got injured so now we don’t look after you’. That’s not the club. The club is wonderful.

“The first conversation Gary had was with James and with his agent after the game, and said ‘Look, the original things we were going to renew in his contract, that still stands, there’s no problem, just concentrate on getting better’.

“That’s the class of the football club, the class of how we do our work here, so there was never going to be a doubt about that.

“It's a big injury, and we are disappointed naturally, but he’ll get over it, he’ll come back from it with our support, and now he can focus on getting better, his rehab, and we’ve got something to try and achieve in these next few games.”


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