It’s been a long and frustrating road back from injury for Northampton’s Ricky Holmes and the striker says he is taking nothing for granted following his return to the side in the Cobblers’ 3-0 win over Sheffield FC on Friday night.
The 28-year-old underwent an Achilles operation in the summer and has struggled to get back to full fitness in a frustrating pre-season campaign. Prior to Friday, Holmes’ only appearance in pre-season came in the opening 45 minutes at Worthing.
He’s back now though and is eager to build up his fitness ahead of Town’s League Two opener at Bristol Rovers next weekend.
“It was great to get back out there,” he said afterwards. “It’s been a long time coming, it’s been about 10 weeks now.
“I’ve only trained three times with the boys this season and it gets a bit demoralising when you’re on your own and in the gym rather then joining in with the banter with the boys.
“It’s been slow progress. I’ve made three comebacks and have broken down every time, but I had an injection last week to enhance my recovery and hopefully I’m there now and I can crack on.
“It’s been slow progress. I’ve made three comebacks and have broken down every time, but I had an injection last week to enhance my recovery and hopefully I’m there now and I can crack on.”Ricky Holmes
“I don’t feel fit in myself – the injury feels fine – but in that 20 minutes my lungs felt like they were screaming, but that fitness will come. Obviously I’ll be behind all the other lads but the matches start now, competition for places starts and that’ll push me to get fit.
“I’ve just got to have a few down days to make sure it doesn’t come back. I’ll take it slowly and continue to put the hard work in.”
Holmes didn’t need long to make his mark after coming on as a 67th minute substitute on Friday when he exquisitely curled home Town’s third goal 10 minutes from time after a neat one-two with left-back David Buchanan. That put the game beyond doubt and rounded off Town’s encouraging pre-season programme on a positive note.
Holmes added: “I think that’s two in two now! Joel Byrom and I have a little competition so that’s a couple more points for me. I should have had two tonight but I’ll take the one.
“I thought it was a tough game – they really gave it a go. When I was playing for a non-league side against a league team it was a like a cup final because you’re always on show and you never know they might give you a chance if you have a good game.
“They showed great tenacity and passed it well and at times we were under the cosh.
“But it was a good show from us and now we look forward to going to Bristol and trying to get the three points.
“I think all the boys look sharp and it’s been a good pre-season. I haven’t been around it as much but they all look and feel fit and we haven’t picked up many injuries which is always a good sign in pre-season. Hopefully we can come back from Bristol with the points.”