Fit-again Pompey ace still under doctor’s orders

Liam Lawrence
Liam Lawrence
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler

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He’s had more comebacks than Rocky Balboa.

But Pompey boss Steve Cotterill insists Liam Lawrence will remain under doctor’s orders as he looks to permanently rid him of his ills.

The Blues skipper made his latest return from injury against Barnet on Tuesday.

The Carling Cup defeat represented only a fifth start for the Republic of Ireland international in Pompey’s past 17 games.

For an automatic choice when fit, it is a tremendously disappointing statistic.

It has been a consistent tale of injury woe since the middle of February, with calf, hamstring and back problems ruling him out of action.

They may yet all be connected.

Regardless, Cotterill has been robbed of his star man too many times.

As it stands, Lawrence is in the frame to maintain his latest comeback by featuring against Brighton on Saturday.

His Blues boss is well aware of the need to gently ease the midfielder back.

But on the flip side, he can’t afford to keep being without such an influential figure.

He said: ‘Liam did okay against Barnet.

‘We are pleased he got 70 minutes under his belt with no ill-effects.

‘That’s the most important thing for all of us at the moment. It was important none of them got injured.

‘Liam has shown no ill effects and will be available for Saturday.

‘With him it’s a chicken and egg situation really.

‘We want him to have games to get fitness but the games can also cause fatigue which causes injury. That is what I am bothered about.

‘It’s not just Tuesday-Saturday now in our fixtures. It’s Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday.

‘They are all important matches to him at the moment because he needs more games.

‘Even through pre-season, he would have been the one player who would have played the least minutes.

‘We brought him back late, which means we needed to speed him up, which means he was given a run out in pre-season but not for the full 90 minutes.

‘It has got to be taken out of Liam’s hands.

‘Normally you can leave it to players and say “where are you?” and “how do you feel?”.

‘But Liam will want to play all the time and then he goes and fails.

‘He did that last season at one stage – in the half-time warm up against Scunthorpe when he broke down.

‘Liam wants to play so much – then it ends up backfiring on him and everyone else because he’s out for six weeks.’

A calf injury initially ruled Lawrence out for two matches in February.

He was on the bench for his comeback at Fratton Park against Scunthorpe – only to aggravate the problem while warming up during the half-time break.

The former Stoke man returned after another two matches out but only featured four times in the last seven fixtures.

He looked to have conquered his injury woes this summer when he spent three weeks training with the Republic of Ireland.

Then the injury flared up during his final training session, ultimately ruling him out of Pompey’s early pre-season programme.

Another return, this time in America, saw him take in one-and-a-half friendlies, with no reaction reported.

But in the build up to the Middlesbrough curtain-raiser last week he complained of pain in his hamstring.

Now he’s back but the monitoring by the medical staff continues.

Cotterill added: ‘What happens is Liam will get a referred pain in his hamstring and or his calf.

‘We think he actually nicked his calf last year and it was a calf problem.

‘But he can get this pain that comes down his back and gives him a sharp pain as if he has pulled a hamstring when it actually isn’t.

‘It might be his pelvis is tilted and we can get that put back in anywhere with any osteopath or chiropractor.

‘We actually sent him off to a specialist last week to find out exactly what it is, so we are well ahead of the game on it.

‘He has to do his strengthening exercises. He needs to keep on top of it to try to keep free of injury.’