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'It's not the pain, it's the thought of missing games' - Jan's insight after injury return

Posted on 22 February 2017  - 10:45

It wasn’t the pain that brought tears to Jan Vertonghen’s eyes when he suffered his injury against West Brom last month – he revealed it was more the thought of being sidelines for key games.

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Fans at the Lane will remember the defender punching the floor in frustration moments after turning his ankle in what looked a fairly innocuous challenge on the left touchline. It proved anything but innocuous and forced Jan to miss our next seven matches.

However, just as was the case last season when he was sidelined for 10 weeks, the Belgian international looked like he’d never been away as he stepped back into the team and a 3-0 win against Fulham in the FA Cup on Sunday. By coincidence, we beat Manchester United by the same scoreline on his return last April.

Below: Jan expresses his feelings moments after his injury against West Brom

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“I was very upset when I was injured because everyone could feel the buzz around the team at that time,” reflected Jan after training on Tuesday.

“We’d just beaten Chelsea and were having a great month. In fact, that win against West Brom (4-0) might have been the best performance so far this season.

“I felt so good, I was so happy with everything on and off the pitch and then the injury happened and the way it happened - ankle again, same problem.

“I know what it takes to come back from that injury and that’s what goes through your mind, not the pain, more like ‘I have to go through all that again’. You just want to come back as quickly as possible.

“I knew exactly what I’d done and it was the same at the European Championships in the summer (Jan injured his ankle in training and missed Belgium’s quarter-final against Wales).

“I knew it was likely to be four to six weeks and immediately I was thinking that I was going to miss some great games like Manchester City, Liverpool, United. We were on a great run and it was sheer disappointment at that moment.”

Thankfully, it’s once again a case of all’s well that ends well as Jan made a successful return at Craven Cottage - Harry Kane’s hat-trick and a dominant display securing that 3-0 win and a home quarter-final against Millwall.

Indeed, it was the 12th clean sheet in 26 games Jan has been involved in so far this season.

“You know, it helps because the team is so strong,” added Jan. “I remember when I came back against United last season we were on a great run and confidence was so high it was easy to step back in.

“To be fair, it was the same on Sunday, another great team performance.

“We defended well, limited them to just one or two chances and created a lot of chances as well, 10 at least. We kept the ball, we were sharp and it was a very good game to come back.

“It’s a game where I must admit you are a little more selfish than normal, you think ‘I have to get through this game’ because I’d been out five weeks and you aim for a game where you return. I was a little nervous before the game but it went well.”

Look out for more from Jan in the build-up to our Europa League Round of 32 second leg against KAA Gent at Wembley on Thursday night...