BILLY Clarke says he is having to learn how to play football all over again.
The 22-year-old frontman ruptured a cruciate ligament during a pre-season friendly in Devon and won’t play for the Seasiders until next season.
Clarke has returned to light training after six months of recuperation and admits it feels like he’s starting afresh.
“It’s good to be back and I hope I can come back the same player I was, if not stronger,” he says, “but I feel like I’m starting to learn to play again. I’m sure the injury will be in the back of my mind for a little while, but once I have a couple of training sessions under my belt I’m sure I’ll be fine.
“It’s mentally tough throughout the injury and some people do struggle to cope when they get back because they don’t want to get injured again. I’ll just get on with it.”
Clarke is recovering quicker than expected but has not been included in Ian Holloway’s 25-man squad, so he would have to go out on loan to play any first-team football this season.
He added: “If I can get fit before the loan deadline I might look to go out somewhere. but I’m not going to rush it.
“There will only be six weeks or so left in the season, so I won’t rush back too early for the sake of five or six games.”
“It would be nice to play this season but my main aim is getting through the next few weeks and doing well in training.
“The recovery period is supposed to be six to nine months. I’m just over the six-month mark and as the weeks go by the risk of re-injury lessens.”
“I’ve had to concentrate on strengthening my knee and other areas of my leg every day. I have to build it up before I can start running and sprinting.
“I’ll have to do the exercises every day for the rest of my career.
“It’s about maintaining full strength in my knee in the future.”
n Malaury Martin has also returned to training.
The former France Under-21 midfielder has not played since joining the club in the summer and, like Clarke, has been omitted from the squad.
He returned to training this week after his knee injury and will be looking for a loan move to kickstart his career in England.
n Norwich City are reported to have joined Championship rivals Derby in the race to sign Seasiders defender Rob Edwards on loan.