Exclusive Josh Harrop Preston North End column: On the road to recovery

In action against Leeds at Elland Road earlier in the season
In action against Leeds at Elland Road earlier in the season

I am four months and one week into my recovery from surgery on the cruciate ligament which I tore in the game against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season.

When you are coming back from an injury like this, you count it by the week and tick off the progress.

My recovery is going well to be fair – it is a long road and I’ve still got quite a while to go yet.

I’m making progress each week, starting to get stronger and now I can put more weight through my knee.

In the last few days I’ve started to do some jogging on the AlterG machine.

That allows you to do some running but without all your body weight going through the leg.

I’m able to put 80% of my body weight through the leg with the machine taking the rest of it.

I’ll be able to increase that each week until I’m able to run normally.

The jogging is a big stage after four months of doing weights and getting the movement back in my knee.

You are almost having to teach your body how to run again and I thought that would feel weird when I first started jogging.

It has actually felt okay and it is a nice change to be able to run.

A major part of coming back from a long-term injury is the mental side.

You’ve got a lot of time to think about things, so it’s about keeping your mind on a good track and not worrying about anything.

I’m focusing on looking at what is happening going forward and not at what has happened in the past.

At the moment my day starts with a 15-to-20 minute bike spin which is quite an intense one, a good blowout for the lungs. Then I do a 
circuit for an hour-and-a-half to two hours which is weights and fitness work but not too heavy – it is more about a lot of reps to keep the fitness up.

Then I will do a weights session in the afternoon for about an hour.

Away from the gym, I’ve been keeping a close eye on my diet, being disciplined about what I eat – I’m not 
eating anything I shouldn’t be doing.

In the gym I’ve got Billy Bodin for company and we push one another on.

Billy is about two months ahead of me in his recovery from the same injury – he did his knee a few days before the season started.

He has had his boots on for the first time to go and do some running out on the grass, so that was obviously a big moment for him and he was really buzzing about it.

It is good to see Billy take a big step forward like that, it encourages me that I’ll be able to do that in a couple of months.

Billy and myself are quite competitive in the gym in terms of who is doing most weights and whose injured leg is the biggest.

That is a bit of fun and it would probably be tougher if you were in there on your own.

We’ve had quite a few of the other lads in the gym with us because of injuries but thankfully most of them are now back playing.

One thing I’ll say about our gym is that it is not the warmest of places so don’t think it is a life of luxury down there.

There’s a member of staff who leaves the door open in a morning for far too long, so it is freezing by the time I get in to start work.

Our fitness coach moans at me for wearing long sleeves in the gym but he wouldn’t do if he realised how cold it was!

In terms of me being fully recovered, I will hopefully train for a good month before the end of the season but I don’t think they will push me to play a proper game.

They will get me back fully fit. I’ll use the summer to do a lot of leg work so that I’m right for next season.

There are no short cuts with an injury like mine and you have to be to be totally right before coming back.

In terms of when I got the injury, I didn’t think it was that bad when it first happened.

I knew something wasn’t right but didn’t realise the extent of it.

The knee didn’t swell up that much, whereas usually there is a lot of swelling when you damage the ligament.

That night I was able to walk on it and bend the knee but it did stiffen up the next morning.

I went for a scan and a few hours later I got a phone call from Matt Jackson our physio.

I didn’t particularly want to answer the call and I knew there was something wrong when he asked me if there was anyone with me.

I had the operation done in Leeds by a surgeon called Steve Bollen who is a really nice guy.

I’ve been back to see him and he was really pleased with the progress I’m making, which was good to hear.