Knudsen in race against time to prove himself
NORWEGIAN defender Morten Knudsen knows he faces a race against time to prevent all his footballing dreams being cruelly snatched away from him.
The 24-year-old fufilled a lifelong ambition of being a professional footballer in England when Colchester United signed him in January this year.
The surprise move to the League One club left him on top of the world just weeks after he had suffered relegation from the Norwegian top-flight (Tippeligaen) with his previous club, Notodden.
However, just as the attack-minded full-back was rapidly approaching match fitness, disaster struck when he suffered a freak knee injury on the training pitch in March.
In an attempt to block a shot on goal, Knudsen’s left leg twisted badly, leading to an audible crack. A scan revealed anterior cruciate knee ligament damage – an injury which carries a minimum of eight months’ recovery time.
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Now, following a lengthy and lonely recovery process miles from his family and friends, Knudsen is finally back in full training and just weeks away from a return to action in the reserve team.
It leaves him with little over five months to persuade manager John Ward, a man who inherited rather than brought him to the club and who has yet to see him play, that he will be worthy of another deal when his contract expires next summer.
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“Every young boy in Norway dreams of coming to England to play football so to get this injury so soon after coming over here was hard to take,” said Knudsen.
“There have been bad days when I think the knee will never be the same again, but right now it feels stable and strong and I just want to show the manager that I am worthy of being here.
“I’m enjoying being here amongst the English culture. I just really want to prove to everyone at Colchester that I can play football.”
With U’s midfielder John-Joe O’Toole suffering the same injury just a few weeks after Knudsen the pair have been able to go through the lengthy recovery process together.
However, the defender – who has been living in a flat on his own with his girlfriend trying to spread her time between Norway and Colchester – says it has been tough trying to make his mark, both as a footballer and a person, over the last year.
He said: “Eight months is a long time not to be playing football and it has been quite lonely for me at times. I’ve come over to a new country and it’s difficult getting to know the guys when you are isolated from them quite a lot.
“It’s not been the best start for me here but it’s happened and I’ve just got to get on with it.
“The manager (John Ward) has been top notch and he understands what I’m going through because I think he had a similar injury as a player.
“I’m an attacking full-back and hopefully my game will suit his style of play.”
He added: “Mr Tony Flynn (Colchester physio) has been there for me through the good and bad times this year and I’d just like to say thank you to all the medical staff at the club for all their help.”