Jake Forster-Caskey was delighted to make his return to first-team action as he ended his 11-month-long wait to get back on The Valley turf on Saturday.
The midfielder suffered an ACL injury last May which kept him on the sidelines for almost a year, but came off the bench in the 65th minute of the weekend’s defeat to Lincoln City, who were the same opposition against which he suffered his setback.
And although he could not help his side complete a comeback against the Imps, he provided an assist for Jayden Stockley’s consolation goal and completed a personal goal of completing his long journey back to action.
“On a personal note, I’m delighted to be back,” explained Forster-Caskey.
“I put a lot of hard work and dedication into getting back to The Valley, so it was a great moment for me. Obviously, I wanted to top it off with a win, but it wasn’t to be.”
“I heard the atmosphere when my name was read out before the game and that was a very special moment,” he continued.
“I had my family here so that’s always nice, and I heard the cheer again when I came on. But once I was on, I just wanted to impact the game and do something positive for the team which I feel like I tried to do.”
The injury suffered by the 27-year-old last year was the second time he had suffered an ACL setback in his career after his 2018/19 campaign was curtailed, but that was an experience which would prove to be helpful as he looked to come back even stronger second time around.
“It was easier this time around because when you’ve had the experience of doing it before, it does get easier,” he said.
“But it’s been a tough season for the fans and it’s been a tough season for me. I’ve been up there every single game watching and it’s been a hard game with lots of ups and downs. I’ve just wanted to get out there to try and help.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I just want to play as much as I can to help the team like I always want to do. It’s been really hard if I’m being honest and I just don’t want the season to end because I just want to play football.”
Meanwhile, Forster-Caskey reserved praise for Head Physiotherapist, Adam Coe, for helping him on his road back to fitness, as well as all the club’s medical staff.
“He’s been amazing for me and the whole club has looked after me – they’ve been amazing to me and so have the fans. I said it last time – I wanted to come back and pay them back and I want to do the same again.”
He added: “It takes a few games, no one has ever come back from this injury and been perfect after one game, but I feel very fit and as strong as I did before so, physically, I feel fine. It’s just that little bit of sharpness, I may need a few more games to get to my peak.”