Negative thoughts inevitably creep into an athlete’s mind following a serious injury.
For Sheffield Wednesday striker Caolan Lavery, that point came much sooner than he anticipated in his career.
The Northern Ireland Under-21 international damaged his left knee cruciate ligament in the Owls’ 2-2 pre-season friendly at Doncaster Rovers in July. He has completed 10 weeks of his rehabilitation programme. Another two months of toil, though, beckon for Lavery.
“I hurt my other knee when I was a youth team player at Ipswich but it was nothing compared to this one,” he told The Star. “This is my worst injury and hopefully my last.
“I have never had to deal with anything like this before. It has all been new to me.”
Lavery, who spent time on loan with Plymouth last season, hitting three goals in eight appearances, admits he found it hard to take when Wednesday’s medical team informed him he would be of action for a lengthy period.
He said: “It was initially, very, very difficult to come to terms with because I finished last season quite well. I felt sharp in pre-season before the injury. I lost my head for a couple of weeks.”
Brought up in Canada by Irish parents, Lavery was granted permission by the physio department and Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray to go home.
He said: “The physios and gaffer sent me home to clear my head a little bit. They have been top notch.
“I went back to Canada. Most of my family are from there. I saw my mum and dad and the rest of my family. That helped me get over the disappointment and I came to terms with the injury after a couple of weeks.”
To aid his recovery, Lavery wore a straight leg brace for a month.
“The only time I was allowed to take the brace off was when I had a shower,” he said. “I couldn’t drive or do anything.”
Lavery burst on to the first-team scene last season. He has played 35 senior matches, including 10 starts for the Owls. While Lavery is delighted to see club competing in the upper reaches of the second-tier of English football, he wishes he could assist the Wednesday’s cause.
“It’s not fun watching from the stands,” he conceded. “It is good to see the boys doing so well.
“Attey [Atdhe Nuhiu] Stevie May and Gary Madine have done a good job up front. From a personal point of view, you want to be out there playing and helping the team. Sometimes you see situations in games where you feel you could have affected things.
“It is frustrating but you become a fan when you can’t play.
“You go through the emotions just like all Owls fans, maybe even more so because you see the guys day in, day out and see what happens behind the scenes.”
Lavery has thanked his Owls teammates and the club’s coaching staff for their support throughout.
“The lads have been so supportive, generous and kind,” he said. “They are always asking me how I am doing.
“It would have been easy for the gaffer to forget about me but Stuart and physio Paul Smith have put their arm around me at times. That has been a massive help.”
As much as he is missing playing, Lavery refuses to rush his comeback.
“I have got to take my time,” he insisted. “I want to be back training and playing as soon as possible. That’s what we do as footballers. That is our lifestyle.
“But I have to make sure I am 100 per cent fully recovered from the injury.”
Single leg squats are the order of the day for Lavery, who scored a memorable double as a substitute in the 6-0 victory over Leeds United in January. He has set his sights on resuming first-team training around mid-December.
He said: “I am starting to progress and push on with my rehab. I’m doing single leg squats and strength and conditioning work in the gym all the time.
“It is frustrating because you can only do so much. The team have started well and I want to a play but you don’t want to over do it and do too much.
“I am on track. Everything is going in the right direction. I just want to get back into the first-team set-up and play at Hillsborough again.”