Everton Under-23s striker Sam Byrne has told of his relief after making his first appearance following an 11-month injury nightmare.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, who signed for the Blues from Manchester United in 2014, sustained a horrific broken leg during a freak accident in training in early March 2016.
He then suffered a setback on his road to recovery but returned to full training last month and made a 16-minute appearance off the bench in the young Blues’ 1-0 win over Arsenal on Monday evening.
Byrne nearly had an instantaneous impact, winning possession in Arsenal territory, before beating his marker and forcing Gunners goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into a good save at full stretch with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area.
The Dublin-born forward is now hoping he can provide ammunition to ensure the Under-23s’ title charge is a successful one.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be back out on the pitch after such a long time out,” he told evertonfc.com
. “It’s great to be back at an important part of the season now and I’m hoping to be play a part in it.
“It was always going to be a long time out. I had a few screws put in my leg that needed taking out after a certain amount a time and then I suffered a little setback and needed another operation, so it just took time, a long time - but I’m just happy to be back now.
“I feel like I’m getting sharper every day. After a few weeks of non-contact work, I’ve been back training with the lads for a month now. I feel good and ready to go.
“The result against Arsenal was massive as we look to push for the title. We needed the three points to open up that gap at the top as much as we could. It was good to get the win.
“The next aim for me is to make a start. I want to get as many minutes under my belt as I can before the end of the season and hopefully we can win the league along the way as well.”
Coach David Unsworth added: “It’s never nice to see one of your young players get injured like he did but, after a long time in the gym and months and months of hard work, he’s finally made his comeback. We’re all very proud of him, he’s a great lad and he deserves a lot of success for the way he’s fought back to fitness after his injury.”
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