"I'm hungry to start playing again" - Bristol Rovers' Adam Virgo
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 05:00
Adam Virgo has spoken of how a nine-month spell sidelined with a serious knee injury has made him appreciate how lucky he is to be a professional footballer.
The Bristol Rovers defender suffered cartilage damage in a training session last September to bring a temporary halt to his Memorial Stadium career, just 11 appearances on from his arrival last summer.
Virgo was forced to undergo knee surgery and a long period of rehabilitation as he sat out the remainder of the season.
The former Celtic man, however, was back for the first day of pre-season training last week and is now targeting a place in the starting line-up when Rovers get their competitive season under way with a trip to Ipswich in the Capital One Cup on August 14.
"It has been a long trip back from injury," said Virgo. "The time out gives you a chance to reflect and it has definitely made me hungry to get fit and start playing again.
"I think sometimes you can get into a mind-set where you just take playing football for granted. When it is almost taken away from you, it makes you realise just how lucky you are to be doing what you do.
"I've played for 11 or 12 years on the spin and I hadn't really had a break from it. To start with it was quite nice, but come Christmas I just had the urge to get fit and play again.
"You spend a lot of time on your own when you're injured and sometimes it can be quite difficult. You see everyone going off to training or away to games and you are spending your Saturdays doing other stuff when all you want to be doing is playing football.
"I missed being part of all that and it has made me really appreciate what I have got. Sometimes you are forgotten because the team moves on and new players arrive.
"The manager and the rest of the backroom team have been fantastic with me during my rehabilitation, though, and me being back fit to take part in pre-season is credit to all the hard work that they have done over the last few months."
Virgo is expected to be omitted from Saturday's opening pre-season friendly against the Royal Marines in Exmouth – but is optimistic of featuring at either Weston-super-Mare or Frome Town a week later.
"I'm still a bit off," admitted Virgo. "I can do straight-line running and running around the track, but I haven't done any contact stuff yet.
"It is a day-by-day process and we're just monitoring the knee after every training sessions. I'm only doing mornings at the minute because I'm not ready for double sessions yet.
"Even when the season starts, I don't think I'll be training day-in-day-out because the nature of the injury I sustained won't allow that.
"These injuries are very common now and it is important we manage it properly over time. I set my stall out back in October to be fit for pre-season training and I've done that, so that is a bonus for me.
"I haven't had any reaction, which is great, but we have to take it day-by-day."
Rovers are launching a new programme to offer 16-18 year old girls the opportunity to pursue a futsal and education scholarship with the club.
The two-year programme, which will begin in September, will lead to a qualification that is equivalent to three A-Levels, offering possible university or foundation degrees for the students, as well as helping develop the girls' skills.
The club's girls futsal ambassador, Grace McCatty, will be running a futsal session at Brimsham Green School in Yate on Thursday (1-3pm) to introduce girls to the game.
An open evening for those interested in enrolling on the programme will then be held at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow (6.30pm). Contact John Moody on 0117 952 2581 or email john@bristolrovers community.org.uk.