'I was struggling to breathe and in a bad way': Wales international and ex-Bristol City an Luton man Joe Morrell on battling back from health scare which threatened his Portsmouth place

Joe Morrell has revealed how he struggled to breathe and was confined to his bed for four days after struck down by a second bout of coronavirus.

Sunday, 16th January 2022, 4:30 pm

And the 25-year-old believes it has taken four matches to rediscover his trademark energy and spark.

Morrell turned in a man-of-the-match performance on Saturday, irrespective of the Blues’ 2-1 defeat to MK Dons.

On a personal level, it was a welcome return to form for the ex-Luton man, following unusually low-key displays against Cambridge United (twice) and Exeter in consecutive games.

According to the midfielder, however, there were mitigating circumstances – namely being left in a ‘bad way’ by Covid around Christmas.

He told The News: ‘I never want to make excuses, but I had a pretty tough time of it – and it took me a little while to get back.

‘There was illness, a hamstring injury, then I picked up Covid, so it has taken me more time to get up to speed.

‘Forget football, I was actually in a bad way with Covid.

Joe Morrell was back to his best on Saturday against MK Dons following a torrid time with Covid, which left him struggling to breathe. Picture Joe Pepler

‘I had a little hamstring injury, which was frustrating, and was back on the grass ready to go only to pick up Covid, like a lot of the lads did. But I really struggled with it.

‘I was in bed for four days with fever, hot and cold sweats, struggling with breathing, probably similar to what a lot of people suffered. I couldn’t get up.

‘However, being a professional athlete, it’s not something you associate with yourself.

‘Being asthmatic as well, that situation can be quite dangerous for anybody – and I was really struggling to be fair. It was tough.

‘There I was, a 25-year-old professional athlete who prides themselves in being fit, who had undergone two vaccinations – and I’d previously had Covid. It shows it doesn’t discriminate.

‘I was going to have a booster, but obviously that will have to wait now I’ve had Covid.

‘Thankfully I’m back now and am feeling ready. I’ve had a good 2-3 weeks training, while Saturday was a fourth game back and the first time I’ve felt myself.

‘I needed the minutes in the Exeter and Cambridge games, that has stood me in good stead for the second half of the season. I feel I'm getting there now, which just comes with more minutes.

‘I’m a person who the more I play, the better I feel – and that was certainly the case on Saturday.’

Morrell had previously missed three matches at the start of December.

That ensured he had gone 38 days without a game upon his comeback for the League One game at Cambridge United on January 3.

Since then he has featured four times in 13 days as he edges his way back to match fitness.

Morrell added: ‘I don’t want to make excuses because I want everything yesterday.

‘I want to be the best player every day, I want to be the best player in every game, that’s what I’m like – and I don’t want to blame any past performances.

‘But people don’t necessarily know what’s going on. I had a coach when I was younger who said nobody cares if you have a headache and that’s true.

‘I’m glad to be back fit now and, as a team, the play-offs are the ambition. We are not going to rest until we get there.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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