PICKING up a serious knee injury could signal the end of a footballer’s careers and indeed some players never seem to bounce back, but one man determined to return better and stronger than before is Sky Blues midfielder Ivor Lawton.
The 20-year-old was living the dream after graduating through the club’s Academy, where he has been since he was six, and progressing through the Under-21 setup into the first team fold.
The tough-tackling midfielder hit a career high after making his debut as a late substitute during a Football League Trophy match away at Yeovil Town.
But Lawton has spent the best part of a year on the treatment table after suffering a severe knee injury he picked up back in action for the Under-21s.
What followed was a long but determined rehabilitation process and this week Lawton returned to the grass as his journey to return to the first team picks up pace.
“It’s a good feeling to be back out on the pitch with boots on,” Lawton told the club’s official website. “It has been ten months since my operation and I’m now starting to feel strong again.
“I’m faster and fitter than before and that is giving me confidence. I’m always one of the first ones in and last to leave, and when you are putting in that amount of work its good to see results.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel for me and I can’t wait to show it on the pitch.
“I have put on 3kilos in muscle and it is really showing. Ever since the injury I have been determined to come back stronger and the support from the medical staff at this club has been fantastic. You have to have the mental attitude that nothing can beat you.
“When you have a long-term injury like this it makes you realise just how much you want it, it makes you hungrier for it. It kills me watching the boys train every day. When people ask me ‘am I going to be the same?’ I say no, I’m going to be better.”
Under the watchful eye of Sky Blues fitness coach Andy Young, Lawton is already starting to see the rewards of his hard work.
During a recent speed test in training, the former City season ticket holder was the fastest in the squad over 20 metres, ahead of the Kelly-Evans twins and Jordan Willis.
“Over 20m I was the quickest player at the club, I was buzzing for that,” Lawton added. “I’ve been grafting every day and little wins like that keep you going.
“It is little triumphs that keep you motivated, it was the best news I’ve had since my injury. I went home buzzing with myself and it made me feel like all my hard work is actually paying off.
“On the pitch I was always a workhorse. And I apply that same principal to my gym work. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself though, I need to be sensible and listen to my body. Sometime in September, I hope to make a return.”