Fighter Shaun nears end of road to recovery

Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

Hawks physio Phil Ashwell has praised the battling qualities of injured midfielder Shaun Wilkinson in his bid to play football again.

Wilkinson was on the wrong end of an X-rated, career-threatening tackle at Bishop's Stortford 18 months ago, leaving him with a fractured leg.

The 29-year-old has faced an uphill struggle ever since.

It has been a frustrating period during which time Wilkinson has suffered a series of setbacks and complications that would have defeated most other players.

Wilkinson, though, is a fighter and although his prospects looked bleak at times, apart from a short spell, he kept the belief he would make it back.

'Shaun has had a dreadful time since picking up the terrible injury,' said Ashwell.

'He fractured both bones in his lower leg and required a number of surgical operations.

'Pins and plates were put in and he has struggled ever since.

'But, Shaun being Shaun, he got the bit between his teeth and has done everything that was asked of him.

'He has worked hard and is now on the verge of recovery.

'There was a spell, not surprisingly, when he started to have some doubts but I never doubted him.

'His glass was half empty when mine is always half full.

'He had a period when he got really down about the situation and we had to keep an eye on him.

'Everyone rallied round and Shaun kept working hard and, thankfully, he proved me right.

'He has now played two friendly matches and, in one, he pulled a muscle in another part of his leg which is part and parcel of the recovery process sometimes.

'Shaun is looking good, though, and I am certain will be back playing for the Hawks soon.'

Wilkinson is the last remaining member at West Leigh Park of the famous FA Cup side who took on Liverpool at Anfield in 2008.

On that day, Wilkinson received a standing ovation from the Kop when he was substituted late on.

The no-nonsense midfielder first arrived on loan at West Leigh Park during Christmas 2001 after spending two years rising from the youth to the senior team at Brighton & Hove Albion.

He made quite an impact in the midfield during his first stay with the Hawks, and was redrafted on loan again eight games into the 2003-04 season before signing a two-and-a-half year contract in November 2003.

After making just four appearances, Wilkinson moved to Weymouth in January 2004.

But after failing to make an impact at the Terras, he returned to the Hawks on a month's loan at the end of the year.

Wilkinson left Weymouth permanently in January 2007 and signed a new contract with the Hawks, where he has since gone on to make 128 senior appearances.