Wigan Athletic star Reece James admits he’s choking on a sense of ‘frustration’ as he counts the days before his comeback from another injury setback.
It’s almost 11 months since James last kicked a ball in anger, the 3-1 victory over Chesterfield back in January when he scored his only goal for the club.
An ankle problem, which took several weeks to diagnose, then ruled him out for the rest of the campaign, while he had to undergo further surgery after breaking down in pre-season.
Having worked himself back on to the training pitches, James has suffered a THIRD setback, with a related problem now affecting his heel, pushing back his comeback date by a month.
And as he continues the gruelling rehab work behind the scenes at Euxton, he’s been left to wonder what he’s done to deserve such a bout of rotten luck.
“It’s been so frustrating for me, because all I want to do is play football,” he told the Evening Post.
“Going to games, sitting in the stands, it’s the same thing over and over again, the feeling of frustration.
“Last season was so frustrating, watching the lads pick up the League One title, and feeling not quite part of it.
“This season we’ve found ourselves near the bottom of the league, and it’s equally frustrating to not be able to do anything about it.
“I just want to get out there and help my team-mates as much as I can, but it’s just not possible at this moment in time.”
James acknowledges he’s already paid a high price for trying to make a swift return to action.
And with most of his career still ahead of him, the 23-year-old former Manchester United defender is determined to do everything by the book to avoid further misfortune.
“I have had problems with this ankle before, but never anything too serious,” he added.
“It’s kind of one of those where tackles over a period of time have accumulated, it’s caused damage and we’ve reached a point where it’s needed surgery.
“It has been difficult, but in the long-term it’s probably the best thing for me to have done.
“I just need to make sure that I make it as strong as I can, so that when I am back, I’m back for good.
“All the lads have been great with me, a few have been joking that I’m on an ‘all-inclusive’ package at the moment.
“They’ve kept the banter coming, and other than that I don’t think I’d have managed to stay in such good mental state.”