Charlie Henry is determined to pay back the faith shown in him by Luton Town manager Gary Brabin and his staff after returning from over a year out due to injury.
The midfielder suffered a detached ligament in his foot while playing against the Hatters for Newport County last year, ruling him out for the rest of the season after he’d made the switch to Kenilworth Road.
But having made a full recovery, the 24- year-old was included on the bench for the yesterday’s 5-1 FA Cup fourth qualifying round rout of Hendon, and made an impressive cameo appearance as a 73rd minute substitute – his first team debut.
Henry admitted afterwards that Brabin had given him no indication he would get an opportunity, saying: “He didn’t say anything, he just told me I was in the squad.
“When he told me to go and get warmed up I was buzzing. It was just good for me to be back on the football pitch. I need minutes, I need games and I’m not match fit yet.
I’m only going to get that through games.
“I need to get my sharpness back and my extra yard or two of pace, but it’s there. It’s not far away and it’s only games that are going to do it. I’m training every day with everyone, my foot feels good and the last month has been so good because the progression I have made has been immense.”
It’s tough for any professional athlete when they are battling long-term injury, and Henry was no different while he was stuck on the side lines.
“I had bad days when I’ve half-broken down and thought ‘this is it, I don’t know whether I can carry on or not’,” he said. “It was such a bad injury, but I've got through it.
“The gaffer has been unbelievable, the backroom staff, the coaches, the doctors, the physio have all been behind me and all helped me through the toughest time in my career.
“Now I want to start paying them back.”
Brabin confirmed there is the possibility Henry could leave the club on loan to regain match fitness, but he is happy to do whatever it takes to establish himself in the Luton side.
He carved out several opportunities for himself during his 17-minute spell in the 5-1 win over Hendon, including taking a free kick that came back off the wall.
“I blame Jake [Howells] for the free kick because he said ‘just smash it’,” Henry joked, adding: “I'm not listening to him again, but he was the skipper so I listened to him.
“It was good to be back out there and be in among the lads.
“It was unbelievable. I’m just so glad to be back on the football pitch.
“It has been so long and such a frustrating time for me over the past year, but I’ve got through it and I’m just so pleased to be on the field playing.”