Fans’ favourite ready to return

Liam Lawrence's 2010-11 campaign was hampered by injuries
Liam Lawrence's 2010-11 campaign was hampered by injuries
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Liam Lawrence has targeted a pre-season friendly return as he bids to bounce back from his latest injury woe.

The 29-year-old has been sidelined this summer following a recurrence of his calf problem.

It is the same complaint which restricted him to just four starts in the final 15 games of last term.

Lawrence had been given the all-clear and spent three weeks on Republic of Ireland duty at the end of last season.

But the problem flared up again during his final training session.

Now, following steroid injections in his back and spine, the former Stoke man is on the comeback trail once more.

The fans’ favourite was back in light training on Monday and could feature in tomorrow’s friendly against a Charleston XI.

That may well prove to be too soon, with Lawrence eager not to rush himself back.

But after Blues boss Steve Cotterill insisted he will not play Lawrence for the first game of the season unless he takes part in a friendly, he is in line to face Charleston Battery (July 27) and Real Betis (July 30).

Lawrence said: ‘I have had this calf problem for ages – it has been going on for a long time now.

‘I went with Ireland and, on the last training session of the whole three weeks, it went again. I couldn’t believe it. I got through the whole three weeks, played, trained hard and then the last one it just went during a five-a-side.

‘I came back to Pompey and the first training session was fine. Then in the second, my calf started to tighten up and I thought “here we go again”.

‘So I saw a specialist who sorted me out, injected me in my back and spine, and hopefully now that will settle down.

‘A lot of problems come from your back and my back is weird. It really is weird how it is shaped.

‘I have pulled my thigh once and groin once – that is it muscle-wise. For a 29-year-old, that is not bad.

‘I have never had a recurrence on those muscles, but this calf just won’t go away.

‘Hopefully, I can play tomorrow. I need a game anyway. I need to start getting back and get sharp and get games under my belt.’

Before his injury in February, Lawrence had established himself as a crucial part of Steve Cotterill’s side.

He netted eight goals in his opening 26 matches, five of them penalties.

Yet the calf problem hampered his campaign, and despite several comebacks, he failed to again reach those highs.

Lawrence added: ‘I kept coming back too early.

‘We were pushing for the play-offs and so I kept coming back after nine days.

‘You need at least two weeks but, because of the situation and we had no players, I was dying to get back out there and play.

‘At one point, I did my calf in training, came back after nine days, they made me sub against Scunthorpe, I warmed up, passed the ball and it went again.

‘It has just carried on but, hopefully, things will get better.’