'It was really frustrating but it's paid off' - Dozzell on patience, asking for a loan and stalled comeback
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 November 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Andre Dozzell has revealed his frustration as his return to action stalled earlier in the season but the teenager is now hungry for minutes on the field after returning to the first-team picture.
Dozzell returned to senior action in pre-season having missed a year of football after suffering a nasty knee injury on the opening day of the last campaign, but had to wait until the start of October to make his first-team return.
That was because former manager Paul Hurst and his medical team found evidence to suggest his knee was not ready for the rigours of the Championship, increasing the chances of further damage, meaning Dozzell was left playing Under 23 football for two months.
The 19-year-old admitted he asked to be loaned out in order to play regularly but is now looking to make up for lost time.
“I can understand the manager (Hurst) looking at it and thinking I’m 18 or 19, have been out for a year with a knee injury and not wanting me to be put straight back in too soon,” he said in an interview with the club’s matchday programme.
“I did have to be patient and trust those people who were making those decisions. It was frustrating at times but they explained why they were being careful and that it was for the best reasons.
“I said to the manager that I didn’t really want to play U23s. I’d missed a year and that was a big year in my development so going on loan was something that interested me.
“I wanted to play men’s football and get the chance to improve every week by playing league games.
“Paul Hurst said they’d look at it but then they had some tests done on my knee and didn’t think it was strong enough to play first-team football. He wanted me to stay at the club and do strengthening work on my knee and train and play with the U23s.
“It was really frustrating but at the end of the day, you don’t want the injury to come back. I just got my head down and did all my rehab and it’s paid off.”
Dozzell has played five times this season and is one of a number of young players to have earned praise from new boss Paul Lambert and his staff, with the teenager believing he is making progress on a weekly basis.
“Last season was hard and very disappointing for me so it’s good to be training and playing games again,” he said.
“I’m just trying to get back to where I was and get better than I was. I just want to get as many minutes as I can on the pitch and help the team as much as I can.
“I definitely feel that each week I’m getting more prepared physically for the Championship. It’s not easy when you have been out for a year but I feel I am moving forward physically and I’m being looked after really well be the physios here.
“When I first came back I was a bit wary of going too hard into a tackle but when I played our first game in pre-season at Braintree, I got smashed. I thought, if I can take a challenge like that and be fine, then I can go into anything.”