FOOTBALL: Influential Wells on the road to recovery
CIRENCESTER TOWN extended their lead at the top of the league to four points with the 2-2 draw against Paulton Rovers on Tuesday night, and also learned that last season’s Player of the Year Ben Wells could return to the side much earlier than had been anticipated.
Wells, arguably one of the most influential midfielders in the entire Southern League last season, picked up a serious injury in the pre-season friendly with Cheltenham Town, tearing both the anterior cruciate ligament and the lateral meniscus of his left knee, which required surgery.
It was thought he would miss the whole season, but Wells has joined in on light training with the squad on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as on match days and has pencilled in a return to full team action at the start of March.
That would mean he could take part in the last ten scheduled games of the league season – perhaps more if there are any abandonments – and, of course, he would then be available for any play-off matches.
Wells got the good news at England’s National Football Centre, St George’s Park, in Burton-on-Trent last week where he was undergoing some PFA-funded rehab.
“They were surprised at how well my recovery was going,” said Wells. “In fact, I was more advanced three months after my op than some of the players there who had been in rehab for up to nine months.”
Wells had nothing but praise for the facilities and the care he has received at St George’s Park.
“You are put up in the on-site Hilton Hotel for three nights and work there for four days,” he said. “It costs £3,500 a week and is all paid for by my PFA insurance.
“The facilities and attention to detail are out of this world. I was using an underwater treadmill and a static bike in an altitude chamber, for instance, and you are put on GPS to monitor how much ground you cover in training.
“You also have a dedicated rehab specialist working with you one on one all week. It has done me the world of good mentally, too
“I went there in mid-October for my first week when it was all about regaining muscle strength and making sure my alignment was good.
“I really cracked on for last week’s second visit, working out on the pitches, running in straight lines, changing direction and kicking the ball again.
“In my two visits there I have seen players from Everton, Arsenal, Oxford, Chesterfield and Dagenham.”
Wells has come a long way since his darkest day when he was told by Cheltenham Town’s senior sports therapist Ian Weston that the results of his scan were bad and that he would be out for the season.
“That was a horrible phone call to take and all very daunting because I had never had an op before. I was Player of the Year last season and I felt I could again be an important player for the team this campaign.
“I am a pretty positive person, though, and I had started my rehab even before the operation.
“Now there is some light at the end of the tunnel and I am hoping to come back stronger and better than ever.
“I work with Leigh (Henry) at nPower in Swindon so I have always kept in touch with what is going on at the club, the new lads have done great and the boys are obviously flying at the moment, so we are looking at a play-off place minimum.
“I hope to be back in full training by mid-January with a view to playing again at the end of February or early March, when I hope to help with the promotion push.”
The classy Wells is sure to attract the attention of higher-level clubs when back to full fitness but insists he will not be moving on, saying: “Ciren have looked after me and the chairman paid for my scan, so I will be there as long as he and Hughesie want me.”
Meanwhile, Jody Bevan is still waiting for his 250th Southern League-level goal. On Saturday, Cirencester visit Bishops Cleeve, the side against whom Jody fired in goal number 200.
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