DERRY City’s Danny Lafferty was on a high yesterday morning when ‘holding his own’ in a practise match with the Derby County first team squad before disaster struck the 22-year-old!
Playing under the watchful eyes of “Rams” boss, Nigel Clough, the talented left-back sustained his first injury in quite some time - a hamstring strain - which saw him return home last night, his three days visit to the Championship club prematurely cut short.
“I’ve never had a hamstring strain in my life,” said the player after visiting the Derby physio. “I felt a sharp pain shooting up my leg after about 10 minutes into the second half. I tried to sprint again and it happened and even when I attempted to jog it was killing me. I held my hand up before having come off the pitch,” he added.
“I’m totally gutted at the moment, especially as I never felt out of place in the match or anything like that. It’s been so frustrating as everything had been going so well for me once I agreed last Friday to travel over for a three days trial with Derby.
“The physio identified the problem immediately and it’s now a case of being out of action for maybe three weeks. But what’s really infuriating is that I’ve been keeping myself fit and active since the season finished. I’ve not been injured in over two years, so for it to happen now is very disappointing. I’m gutted,” lamented Danny.
Therefore, his first appointment this morning will be to make contact with Brandywell physio, Colum O’Neill, to commence his rehabilitation.
“I got worried that my hamstring would snap and that’s when reality kicked in,” he added.
However, during our conversation, Danny opted to take the positives out of his brief visit and, indeed, reflect on what had been a good weekend.
“I was delighted to have been nominated for the PFAI’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ Award and I was in Dublin last Saturday night before flying out from there on Sunday to East Midlands Airport and while I didn’t win the award, good luck to Enda Stevens who did and, hopefully, he will do well having signed for Aston Villa.
“Naturally, I would have loved to have won the award, especially with Eamon Zayed winning the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ as it would have been a great double for Derry City, but everything had been happening so fast for me.
“I was told about Derby County on Friday, Brighton rang me over the weekend and I was supposed to visit Huddersfield next Monday while Nottingham Forest have been in touch with Derry City about my future,” he declared.
“I suppose it was a lot to take in over the past few days but now, having sustained my first hamstring injury, I’ve been brought back to earth with a bang. A hamstring pull is part and parcel of football but the fact that I have never sustained such an injury had been worrying.
“I intend to make contact with Colum O’Neill on Tuesday morning (today) and get the treatment I need. Hopefully, it will be a short-term thing and that I’ll be in a position to visit the clubs who have been making contact sooner rather than later.”
And with the 2011 season now completed, Lafferty is keen to make an impression at any club he opts to go on trial to.
“With the season over and the fact that we’re not due to return to training for a few weeks yet, cross-Channel clubs now opt to take players over to take part in their training session to have a look at them. Most of this is done through agents and as a player who wishes to play at the highest level possible, I think it’s important that I have the confidence to travel over if invited.
“While I’m a bit heartbroken at the moment, in 24 hours I would expect to be feeling better. After all a hamstring strain isn’t the end of the world, although the timing of this could have been better,” he laughed.
“No, I intend to take the positives out of the visit. I was delighted that I didn’t feel out of place, either on the training ground or in the practise match. I was supposed to play a match for Derby on Wednesday and I was looking forward to that but, hopefully, my chance will come again once I get the treatment I need.
“I still can’t believe it. I’ve gone through a full season without any injury. I’ve kept myself in good shape, scored nine goals as a left-back and got nominated for the PFAI’s ‘Young Player of the Year.’ Clubs have come in asking about me and now this happens.”
Having spent five years with Celtic since he was 16 years old, it comes as no surprise that the accomplished left-sided player was down-hearted when returning home. But his two seasons with his home town club have certainly seen the hunger return.
He’s now ready to meet the challenge of returning to England and attempt to play at the highest level possible.
“At the moment I’m gutted, but at least my name is out there and if something comes out of it, well and good. I’ve still got a year to run in my Derry contract, so I intend to put this disappointment down to experience and get on with it,” concluded the player.