Phil Joy has revealed his long-awaited comeback after a “nightmare” three-month absence with a shoulder injury could be just around the corner.
The Oldham forward will be back in full training next week and might be available for the Roughyeds’ next game against Batley at the Manchester Regional Arena on Sunday 21st May.
“Potentially, that could be on, but first I’ve got to prove my fitness and then I’ve got to be selected,” said Joy.
“Being out of the game so long has been a nightmare, really tough to swallow. I can’t wait to get back.
“I’ve done my three weeks of ‘special’ rehab ordered by the consultant, so I’m expecting to start full training with the squad on Tuesday and my aim is to convince the physios and the medical team that I’m good to go.
“I hope to get full clearance next Thursday, in which case I’ll be available for selection for the Batley game and then it’s up to Scott (head coach Naylor) and what he thinks is best for the team and best for me.
“There are two minor features of the injury that potentially could still need surgery at the end of the season.
“Scott says he has known a lot of players who have coped okay with similar injuries, but the consultant has stressed that if I’m going to start playing again soon we will have to look after the shoulder week-by-week and give it all the care and attention it requires.
“The best scenario is that I get through the second half of the season without anything going wrong again. If that happens, and with a full off-season to follow, I probably wouldn’t need an operation after all.”
Also making excellent progress is the club’s other long-term injury victim, Craig Briscoe.
A knee injury restricted him to seven games last season, his first with the Roughyeds, and he is now fighting back from a major reconstruction of his right knee, which was always expected to keep him sidelined for most of 2017.
Every Tuesday and every Thursday night he travels to Oldham from his home in Wigan to do his rehab with the club’s physios and then enviously watch his teammates in preparation for their next game.
“The physios are always telling me I am well ahead of schedule and making excellent progress,” said Briscoe.
“I’m on track to start a little bit of straight-line running either next week or the week after that and that in itself will be a major breakthrough.
“Initially, I hoped to get in a couple of games at the back end of the season, but the way things are going I’m now thinking of five or six, though I’m probably being a bit optimistic with that.
“The main thing is I’m getting nearer as every week goes by and at the age of 24 I still have most of my rugby career ahead of me.”