Exclusive Greg Cunningham PNE column

Tracking Rhys Healey against Cardiff last week
Tracking Rhys Healey against Cardiff last week

The big news of the week was our team-mate Kevin O’Connor winning some big money on the Irish National Lottery.

Rest assured he has been back training with us and not packed it in to go home to Wexford!

Naturally, Kevin got his leg pulled in the dressing room when he first came in, the banter was flying about the place.

He got the lottery ticket as a Christmas present from his godfather and you couldn’t have asked for a better gift than that could you?

We are all delighted for Kevin, he’s a top guy and I’m sure he will buy all the lads a nice dinner and a few drinks soon!

There’s the old cliché of the luck of the Irish and I think I’ve read that the Euro Millions winner was from Ireland too.

On the football front, I got the best Christmas present I could have wished for when I returned to action after my injury.

I was on the bench against Barnsley on Boxing Day and then started the 1-0 win at Cardiff on December 29.

There had been no bounce game before that, the Cardiff match gave me my first minutes since August.

To get through 80 plus minutes was fantastic and hopefully that is me up and running now.

I’d been back training for the best part of two weeks before Christmas, while I’d been doing fitness work too.

I had a chat with the gaffer and said the only way I would get my fitness and sharpness back was by game minutes.

You can train all you want but it is the extra intensity of a game which pulls you up to the level you need to be at.

I’m feeling good, ready to kick on and hopefully there will be more minutes for me at Wycombe in the FA Cup.

I want to make sure it is a positive 2018 for us.

It has been said before that the injury I got was quite a rare one in football.

So for Sean Maguire to have suffered something very similar too, has been very unlucky.

My injury happened at Derby in August, I went up for a header and my leg just folded as I came down.

The hamstring muscle came away from the tendon at the top, so that had to be reattached.

I’ve got quite a big scar down the back my leg where the surgeon did the repair but it is probably worse then it looks.

Sean’s injury was slightly different than mine in the fact that his tendon had come away from the bone.

It was similar, however a bit different if that makes sense.

Hopefully Sean can get back as quickly as possible and be ready to play a part for a stage of the season.

He had hit the ground running since coming over here and looked a very good player.

When I had my operation in the summer, there were four of us in hospital having a similar operation.

The surgeon was a busy man that morning and had actually come back from his holidays for a day to do the operations.

I was very grateful for that and meant I got the repairs done a bit sooner than I might have done.

After the operation, I had 10 days off to go home and get my head round it.

Once I came back here, I got focused on the rehab work and building up my fitness.

I was probably a couple of weeks ahead of schedule when I played, so that was a big positive.

During my time out, I had the company of some of the other lads in the gym and treatment room.

I don’t like to see anyone out injured but injuries are part and parcel of football and it gave me company.

Tom Clarke was one of the lads in the gym, getting into the latter stages of his rehab.

He put in a tremendous amount of work and Clarkey has done phenomenally well since getting back – that was only to be expected of the skipper who is someone who leads by example.

After the disappointment of losing to Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day, we move on to play Wycombe.

It is going to be a tough game, Wycombe are going well in League Two – they are in fourth place and up there for a reason.

They get a good home crowd and we will have to go there and work very hard.

We won’t be taking them lightly, that’s for sure.

The gaffer has done his homework on them and like he does before any game, passes on the information we need.

Adebayo Akinfenwa is the Wycombe player who gets plenty of attention.

He is a big physical bloke who we will need to keep a close watch on. They have a good squad so we know we are in for a game.