Monday, March 14, 2011: A special day for Danny Webber.
It might have seemed like any other start to the week for most of us, but that was far from the case for the likeable lad from Manchester.
Pompey’s Eastleigh training ground may not provide the most spectacular of confines, but that mattered little to the forward.
Because the pitches at the Blues’ base provided the setting for the culmination of nearly a year’s hard graft for him yesterday.
It’s been 353 days since Webber was left writhing in agony on the White Hart Lane turf.
A ruptured cruciate knee ligament left the 29-year-old’s career in doubt and Webber facing a long, tough road to recovery.
But his dedication and determination to fight his way back to fitness has seen him tread carefully, but successfully, along that path.
Long days in the gym while the rest of the squad have gone about the business they love a few metres away have now been rewarded.
Webber’s final days with the fitness team were completed last week as he found his feet on the training pitch once again.
That cleared the way for him to join in with his team-mates yesterday and mark his victorious fightback.
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill lauded the player’s commitment and attitude to make his gutsy return.
Cotterill said: ‘Danny has had two days with the physio and fitness coach out on the pitch, and he was back training yesterday.
‘Hopefully, everything goes well with him and we get him back into training every day and see where he is.
‘That will be a nice boost for him. He has worked really hard and yesterday was a special day for Danny.
‘He has done really well and we’re really pleased with him.
‘He just needed to get over the first little bit when he gets back out on the grass with the physio.
‘He got through those other days okay, so it’s good news for us.
‘He is on his way out of the gym again now and we’re delighted for him.’
Cotterill is wary not to set unrealistic targets for Webber and push him too hard now he is back in training.
The attitude he has shown throughout his rehabilitation shows the former Manchester United man will be champing at the bit to get some action under his belt sooner rather than later.
His boss knows he has to guard against his enthusiasm and resist the temptation to bring Webber back too quickly.
Cotterill has set him the target of being in action for the final throes of the season.
He said: ‘Danny needs to get his strength and his power back so he doesn’t go out there jelly-legged.
‘We’ve got to give him time to get back and not expect too much from him – the same as what happened with Hermann (Hreidarsson).
‘Dan is a bit younger so he will have that on his side.
‘If he can come back before the last two or three games of the season, I would be delighted with that.
‘If he can come back on the bench before then and maybe get 10 or 15 minutes of running out of him, it would be a boost for everyone.’
Cotterill admitted having Webber back in his ranks will mean a welcome lift for him as well as the player.
Another body in a threadbare squad is cause for celebration in the Pompey boss’ book.
And, when Webber does come back, it will give the Blues manager the ability to make more like-for-like changes.
Cotterill said: ‘It would be a boost for me to swap a forward with a forward, as opposed to a forward with a left-back.
‘We haven’t really got any forward changes and that has been a big problem.
‘Sheffield United, who are second from bottom, took three strikers off and put another three on against us. We have never been able to do that.
‘We would have beaten Nottingham Forest if we had been able to do that all those weeks ago.
‘Bristol City showed that they have got a good strong squad when we played them, too.
‘So it will be nice to have Danny as another option.’