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Armstrong nearing return

Posted on 1 April 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Chris Armstrong is on the verge of making a playing comeback for our reserve side after suffering on the sidelines for a year.

The striker was struck down with groin and abdominal problems that led to him undergoing a hernia operation. The slow road back to action is finally drawing to a hopefully successful conclusion.

"I've been training now for three or four weeks," reported Chris. "Not full training, I'm running with the physio and the next step will be to join in the full training - hopefully next week with the reserves and I'll get some games under my belt."

After not seeing any action for such a length of time, a reserve team outing will feel like a cup final to Chris, who last started a senior game on December 27, 2000.

"It will be, it'll be a big test for me getting my first couple of reserve games. It's been over a year now since I played any sort of competitive game and I'm looking forward to it."

While the discomfort of injuries plays a part in the early stages of any absence, Chris admits that a lengthy spell in the treatment room is just as hard on the heart and mind.

"Well I'm still here and raring to play. It's been hard, a year is a long time to be out. Probably the first six or seven months are the worst when you're trying to find out what the problem is and not knowing when I was going to be playing or whether I'd be playing again.

"But the last couple of months, since the operations have been done and there's been a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, it's been a bit easier.

"I'm looking forward now to actually playing and training again," he beamed, before saying that avoiding depression is a tall order.

"It is. I think every player will say that when they're injured after a certain time, especially when it doesn't seem like it's getting better, and it has been hard because football is all I've ever been doing.

"There is a lot of sitting about, a lot of wondering when you're going to be playing. But it could be worse, there are worse off people than I am so I can't let things get too bad."

An added incentive for Chris to return to full working order is the prospect of linking up once again with Teddy Sheringham, with whom he forged a productive partnership in Chris's early days at the club.

"I did yes. The first season I was here I played a full season with Ted and it went well. We got a few goals between us, but it seems such a long time ago now, about six or seven years ago...

"As I say, just to get involved again and play a reserve game - I'll be buzzing."

Chris believes that, having just reached the age of 30, he has a bit of mileage left on the clock yet and with not playing for so long there might be a bit more left in the tank. Compared to Les and Ted though he's still a bit of a youngster.

"I am, just turned 30. But I haven't done anything for the last year, so it's not like I've been overplaying or anything. Maybe there's a few more years left.

"It definitely might be an advantage not to have played so much and sat back and watched for a bit. I'll be looking for a good few years yet."

Chris says there has been 'a little bit' of a reaction to his injuries during his rehabilitation, but explains that it is to be expected.

"There was such a lot done there so there's always going to be a little bit now and again. The main thing is that it is improving week after week and feels like it's getting stronger.

"It's going in the right direction now, whereas before I wasn't sure what was happening down there. Now I can tell it's getting better.

"I'm pushing on, kicking balls now and nearly sprinting. Next week I'll be looking at joining in and playing a reserve game."

One thing is for sure, Chris will not take any chances with his fitness. He feels that playing while unfit in the past did not help his health or cause. He also admits that the prospect of not playing again did cross his mind.

"It was worse when I was training and trying to convince myself that I was fit. That was probably harder to deal with because things weren't getting better.

"I was sort of in the middle ground. Whether to have operations, or whether to try and play and push on through with it. There was all different advice coming. That was probably the worst time.

"Once the operations were sorted out and I knew what was going to be done and the work was being seen to, I've felt better since then.

"It's a cliche when people come back and say they thought they weren't going to be able to play. But it's true.

"When your there, and there's pain there and it's been there for a year, not feeling like it's getting any better, it is going to cross your mind that you're not going to be able to play again.

"Or you play games and are not able to play to your potential. That was what upset me most, I'd be out there playing games and I knew I could do better and I knew that I wasn't justifying myself.

"That was harder to deal with. As long as I'm fit and able to play to my potential I'll be happy. It's not nice playing when you know you can do better, but can't."

Another major downside of being injured is the lack of involvement in team matters, the treatment room hardly caters for the same banter as the dressing room.

"You don't really feel involved after so long. It's harder to watch games when you know you're not even close to playing.

"I went through a stage when I didn't see many games and you probably do feel that you're not much part of it.

"The boss Glenn, the physios and the doc have all been great. They try and keep me involved and keep my head up. They've done well for me here."

The obvious target now is for Chris to step out at the Lane for a first team game before the end of the season.

"I'd love to get a couple of games, or be there and there abouts by the end of the season. I'll just take the next few reserve games as they come, I just want to be fit - that's the main thing.

"It's a big year for me coming up. I'm looking forward it."

By Richard Hubbard