The forgotten man of Upton Park
DANNY GABBIDON, the forgotten man of Upton Park, is planning a return to action before the end of the season after an agonising 14 months out with injury, writes DAVE EVANS. The Welsh international has not appeared in claret and blue since the Carling Cup
DANNY GABBIDON, the forgotten man of Upton Park, is planning a return to action before the end of the season after an agonising 14 months out with injury, writes DAVE EVANS.
The Welsh international has not appeared in claret and blue since the Carling Cup quarter-final defeat by Everton back in December 2007.
But after months of lengthy treatment on various niggly injuries, he finally feels he is ready to take the next big step towards playing again.
"It's been going okay for the last few weeks and I've started to increase some of the stuff I've been doing," he said.
"I know the back is better than it was before and I can make a few targets now and hopefully in a month, I may be running and closer to training.
"Then I can incorporate a few more targets and goals into my programme."
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Signed from Cardiff City during the summer of 2005 after West Ham had booked their place in the Premier League, he proved an instant success.
The quiet, likeable player, who was so cool on the pitch, helped the Hammers to ninth place, an FA Cup Final and a place in Europe and he helped himself to the Hammer of the Year trophy too.
But since then it is injury that has blighted his West Ham career.
Two seasons ago his campaign finished in January, last term it was December and this time round he has not got on the field at all.
It makes Gabbidon wish that his injury had been more clear cut.
"It wasn't one problem, but two or three different things that are quite complicated and have proved quite hard to get rid of," he said.
"It sounds silly, but it may have been better to have had a straightforward injury like a broken leg or something like that as you know when you might come back."
It has been a long road back for the 29-year-old, but he is thankful for the help he has received from the medical team.
"It's been a long time and it has been quite frustrating," he said. "I was hoping to get back a long time ago, but it's been tough, a few setbacks here and there.
"I thought I was getting there and then something else happens.
"The medical staff have been great all season and really positive with me, which is great as when you've been out for a long time you need the physios to keep having faith in you."
Gabbidon, who has made 75 appearances in claret and blue in his three-and-a-half year stay at the club, is now determined to get fit and repay some of that faith.
"The club have been great," he confirmed. "I have been to see a few different people and they have been really good organising that. I can't fault the club for the effort they have put in to try and get me back fit and hopefully I can get back in and start repaying them."
With the elegant style that the Welshman shows on the pitch, you would think that he is just the sort of player that manager Gianfranco Zola would like, and Gabbidon is pleased that his new boss continues to keep tabs on him.
"I have spoken to the manager a few times. He has been really good with me. He asks me how I am, what has been going on and when I am going to come back," he said.
"He says we are waiting for you to come back. It is nice to know the manager is thinking about you.
"When you have been out for a while you can think you are the forgotten man, but it has not been like that at all."
Roll on the day when Gabbidon is back on the field at Upton Park, and maybe just maybe, that will be before the end of the season.