WES FOGDEN believes he is closing in on a first-team return after coming through his ‘horrible’ seven months.
The Pompey midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season training back in July and has been sorely missed this season, as he has battled his way back to fitness.
But the 26-year-old came through around 70 minutes of the reserves’ 4-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon with no ill-effects, and is cautiously optimistic he will be back involved with the first team in the coming weeks.
Fogden said: ‘It’s been a horrible seven months, I’m not going to lie.
‘To miss the season has been hard but I’m hoping I’ve got myself right now and we’ll see where it takes me.
‘I’m hoping to be back in the first team before the end of the season.
‘I’ve missed a lot of action and you want to chase it and catch up as much as you can.
‘But we will see when they think I’m right.
‘Physically, I felt good so if it comes along, I think I will be ready.
‘Fitness-wise, I wasn’t too bad. I was expecting to be a lot worse, to be honest.
‘But it was nice to be back out there playing that amount of time again.
‘I knew I had to be right before I stepped back out on to the pitch, but I feel strong enough to be able to do that now.’
The former Bournemouth man insists he is now at the stage where the injury does not affect his play, and he believes he will be back stronger when he makes his long-awaited return to first-team action.
He said: ‘When I’m out on the pitch, I don’t really think about it at all now.
‘I try to get on the ball, I try to make runs and it takes my mind off other things.
‘It feels strong and I’m not getting any niggles at the moment, so I’m happy with it.
‘The way that I have always played is to give everything.
‘So you can’t go into games thinking about injuries or it would take something away from your game.
‘I just try to go out there and do everything I did before.
‘Fingers crossed, I have done my rehab right and I’ve got myself stronger than I was before.’
And while Fogden is within touching distance of a place back in Andy Awford’s squad, he admits there could be another battle to overcome in the final part of his recovery.
He said: ‘You always want to rush yourself and get back out there as quickly as you possibly can.
‘It’s probably been one of the toughest bits of the whole process.
‘Now I’ve played a couple of reserve games and I just want to be playing more and more.
‘But the club has got a good physio team and they have been sensible with me, as have the coaching staff and manager.
‘We’ve all worked together on it so we won’t rush the final part.’