Portchester boss praises Joe Noakes for showing ‘amazing character’ on return from latest injury woe
AFC Portchester manager Mick Catlin has lauded the determination of attacking midfielder Joe Noakes.
Noakes is back in the squad for their Wessex Premier encounter against Lymington Town at the Crest Finance Stadium after a midweek Russell Cotes Cup run-out.
It signals a remarkable fightback from injury which has kept the talented player out of the game for over two years.
After spending 18 months out with a cruciate ligament problem, Noakes was set to make his return in pre-season.
Tragically, in his first game back, a friendly against US Portsmouth, Noakes suffered a badly broken leg.
The catalogue of injuries would have been enough to finish most people in the game.
Noakes, though, is fanatical about his football and is made of sterner stuff.
Catlin admires the bravery he has shown during his rehabilitation.
'We were all gutted for Joe because it was a terrible freak accident
'He went for an innocuous tackle and kicked the bottom of the other player’s boot in clearing the ball.
'There was a horrible crack and were hoping that was his shinpad.
'When we saw the pain he was in, it became obvious it was serious.
'He has shown amazing character and appetite to fight his way back.
'During his time out he worked so hard and maintained his belief
'It was brilliant seeing him back out there for the final 15 minutes against Fareham in midweek.
'I was very nervous after sending him on as a substitute.
'My heart was in my mouth when he went in for his first tackle.
'Despite the injuries, he is not the sort of person who is going to pull out of any tackle.
'We will manage Joe carefully and work closely with his physio Mark Gibson, who has played a big part in his recovery.
'If it had been up to Joe he would have returned weeks ago.
'We will now slowly start to introduce him into more competitive games.
'He can be a massive player for us in the run-in to the end of the season.'
Catlin is looking for the Royals to get back to winning ways as they continue to chase down top two Alresford and Stoneham.
The Royals beat Lymington 4-3 earlier in the season after trailing 3-1 to the New Forest side.
'The first game was a feisty affair and we are expecting another physical test,' said Catlin.
'Pitches at the moment are not conducive to playing passing football and we have to be prepared to battle it out.'
Midfielder Sam Lanahan returns to the squad after scoring on his debut in the home loss to Stoneham a fortnight ago.
He wasn’t available for Tuesday’s RCC tie with Fareham which the Royals lost 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.