Joe Bennett delighted to finally make his Wigan Athletic debut
Joe Bennett has expressed his relief after making his Wigan Athletic debut – almost three months later than planned.
The 31-year-old left-back, one of 15 summer signings, arrived at the DW with a knee problem sustained towards the end of last season at Cardiff, but not far off a return.
But a succession of calf niggles kept putting back his comeback date until a successful run-out for the Under-23s against Sunderland in midweek.
“It was nice being back out there, obviously it’s been a long time I’ve been out,” he told the Wigan Post.
“I obviously thought my first game with Wigan would have come about much sooner than it has.
“I wasn’t quite fit when I arrived, but I’ve had a few problems with my calf which kept knocking me back.
“It was only 45 minutes but I actually felt stronger and fitter than I thought I would.
“I’ve been doing a lot of running with the physios, who’ve been great with me here, and I do feel very fit.
“I do feel I could have played a little bit longer, I asked if I could stay on, but they didn’t want to push it.
“Hopefully I’ll get 60 minutes next time, then 90, and then I’ll be back to where I need to be.”
Bennett’s last first-team action was eight-and-a-half months ago, when promotion-chasing Cardiff hosted Derby.
“It was March 2, we were on a great run at Cardiff – 11 games without defeat – and it was a strange one,” recollected Bennett, who was born in Rochdale.
“There was no-one near me at the time, I just turned and heard the loudest ‘crack’...and I thought ‘right, that’s me gone for a little while’.
“Obviously it was the worst possible timing, because I was coming out of contract at the end of the season. But I knew I would get back to 100 per cent, and hopefully I’m almost there.
“To be fair, I’ve never had a serious injury in my career, just a few little niggles.
“I’m 31 now so I’ve done pretty well to have gone so long without one.
“Mentally and physically it has been tough to get over, but I’m almost there, I feel it’s just around the corner.”