Will Patching excited for return as Derry City star puts injury nightmare behind him

​WILL Patching hopes he's finally resolved his nagging injury problem which has plagued his game for the past 12 months as the Derry City playmaker edges closer to a timely return.
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​The 24 year-old has spoken of his injury frustrations which began towards the tail end of last season and hampered him from producing the type of form which endeared him to the Brandywell Faithful since his first full season at the club.

Patching hasn't started for Derry since the 4-1 win over UCD on May 19th and it's been an overall disruptive season in terms of playing time and form due to an ongoing patellar tendon injury in his left knee.

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Having opted to play through the pain barrier for the first part of the season, it got to the point where the injury became 'unbearable' and he made the decision to finally get to the bottom of it and allow time for it to heal properly.

Derry City midfielder Will Patching. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2326GS – 26Derry City midfielder Will Patching. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2326GS – 26
Derry City midfielder Will Patching. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2326GS – 26

It's been a difficult few weeks for the former Man City youth as he's watched from the stands as his teammates struggled through a lean patch but he's spent the time wisely, getting regular physio treatment and strengthening his troublesome tendon.

This injury has been particularly discouraging but as he completes his rehabilitation he's returned with a fresh optimism for the rest of the season.

"It has been frustrating," lamented Patching. "It's so frustrating, I couldn't even describe it to you, I just want to get back out there.

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"Even the back end of last season was hard. I was playing with a niggle and you don't actually realise how much it affects you on the pitch. I had to take a little chunk out of the season, try to get it right and hopefully now I can get back into a rhythm when it does fully recover.

"It's patellar tendonitis, so the tendon just below the knee which has been like that for over a year now and it's just gradually got worse and worse.

"It was bearable at the start but then when I kept playing on it, it got to the point where it was unbearable and I couldn't carry on.

"Hopefully when I get back playing I can have a big impact on the team during the second half of the season.

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"I've not really been able to have that impact during the first half but hopefully when I do get back I can push on and have a good second half of the season and see what happens in the league, the cup and we've got Europe to look forward to as well."

It's no coincidence Derry's form has faltered in the absence of key creative players like Patching, Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney, but the midfield maestro felt playing on would've simply exacerbated the issue.

"It just gets worse and worse and you end up in the same position, maybe two years down the line then so I think it's best just to get it sorted. You miss a bit of time on the pitch but hopefully when you come back it's alright.

"I was down at the game on Monday (in Tallaght) watching it and just dying to get on and play. It is frustrating watching it and thinking you could help the team but at the same time you've got to do what's right for yourself. Hopefully I'll be back on the pitch soon and add a few goals and assists.

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"You look at the players out injured and some of our main players aren't playing at the minute, match winners. Hopefully when we all come back we can all contribute and get a good few results in. The lads who have been playing, have been playing well. Look at the game the other night and we did everything right apart from scoring really.

"We could have created a few more chances but we had a lot of the ball and played really well. It's just that final third area where we can get a bit better and hopefully when the lads come back they can help do that."

Patching admitted he was the happiest he's ever been in his football career at Derry City last year prior to his niggling injury which has put a 'dampener' on things recently.

However, he's got plenty to be excited about and believes he can still play a starring role as Derry battle for league and cup honours and bid for a successful European run this summer.

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"When I first came to Derry it was great and that's the reason I came back," he said. "When I went back to Dundalk and I got recalled, that's the reason I signed permanently because I really enjoyed everything about it. I enjoyed working under the gaffer and last season was the same.

"Obviously with the little injury which has turned into a bit of a problem for me over the past year or so, it's put a bit of a dampener on it but there's better times ahead. When I get back fit, hopefully those good times return.

"We're definitely still in with a shot of winning titles and going for trophies so it's not a bad time to come back," he smiled. "Considering the boys we have out at the minute, if we stay within touching distance and when we get a full strength squad again, as long as we're still within touching distance I think we can have a right go at it."

Last year's European experience was short lived after a disastrous pairing with Riga FC but Patching has high hopes for a prolonged Europa Conference League campaign this term after a favourable first round draw against HB Torshavn from the Faroe Islands.

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"European football is a different ball game than the league and it suits me down to a tee. I love playing in those games so it's not a bad time to come back from injury with all these exciting games to look forward to.

"I'm not looking forward to it (travelling to the Faroes) either because I heard the runway is . . . One of my mates lives over there, he plays for a team in the Faroes and he says it's the scariest thing and I'm not a good flier as it is. So that's one thing I'm not looking forward to," he laughed.

"But it's a great chance for us and hopefully we can get a result and move into the second leg. I'd say if we do, even in the second round we've got a good chance as well so if we go about our business we could have a good run in Europe this year."

Patching hopes to be involved in that first round qualifier on July 13th next and reckons he could even be back for the home clash against Sligo Rovers the week before.

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"I just started running the past week and before that I was just doing rehab for my knee and trying to get that right and build muscle in my leg again.

"Running will kick me on again and then I'll start strengthening it up and get back involved with the football side of it. I can't wait to get back out there."

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