Daggers star Graham nearing the end of long road back from injury
PUBLISHED: 16:04 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 12:29 11 August 2010
Pic by John Morrisson-J Morrisson Pro-Services Ltd
DAGENHAM & RED-BRIDGE winger Richard Graham has insisted he is just three 90-minute reserve games away from a return to the first team after five months out of action, WRITES NEIL TRAINIS. The 28-year-old has been restricted to just eight appearances th
DAGENHAM & RED-BRIDGE winger Richard Graham has insisted he is just "three 90-minute reserve games" away from a return to the first team after five months out of action, WRITES NEIL TRAINIS.
The 28-year-old has been restricted to just eight appearances this season, seven in League Two and one in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, after suffering a hernia and has not played since Daggers' league defeat at Peterborough United on November 6.
He underwent an operation in December and has spent the last four months recovering but several weeks ago was told by the surgeon who operated on him that surgery had been a success and that, with rest, he could play again.
Graham, a summer signing from Barnet, started training last week with the first team and was due to play in specially arranged fixture last night (Tuesday), his first game since sustaining the injury, one he believes could set him on the road to recovery.
"The injury's not too bad. Training has been pain-free but has tightened up a little. It's been a long time since I played 90 minutes. I tried to come back a few weeks ago and the surgeon said I was okay (to play)," said Graham, who has watched from the sidelines as his side have rejuvenated their bid to prolong their stay in League Two with five successive victories.
"It's just a case of getting through the pain. The injury itself has healed. He said it was down to me and how I felt. The operation was very successful. It's just a case of it (the pain) settling down and I'm trying to get match fit."
Graham has spent time with physio John Gowens on strengthening and conditioning work in preparation for a return to first team training and after a period the player described as "the most frustrating" of his career, finally has some light at the end of the tunnel.
"I need two or three games in the reserves and I'll be back in contention (for the first team). I've just got to get on with it. I was in every day with the physio and I've had to work hard but now I'm training with the lads," said Graham.
Daggers will be looking for revenge as much as continuing their League Two revival when they host Peterborough on Saturday, a side who were second in the table before their clash at Barnet last night and boasting former Victoria Road favourite Craig Mackail-Smith.
Graham anticipates a stern examination, but believes that in recent matches, Daggers have shown there is no reason for them to fear anyone in the division.
"Being really honest, it (Daggers' form) has not been surprising. The manager kept saying that the results will come and they have," he said.
"Some games we've not had the rub of the green but the 6-2 win (over Chester City) lifted the team. We look like we can score in every game. Even when we lost 3-1 at their (Peterborough's) place we led 1-0 at half time and I really fancied us.
"I can see another win. We went to Bradford and didn't concede a goal so I don't see why not. We shouldn't be afraid of anyone."
Graham insisted that relegation back to the Conference would be unthinkable for a club that worked so hard to get to the Football League but he expects Daggers, 10 points above the drop zone, to survive.
"The players have shown they don't want to go back to the Conference. We always felt we could get out of it," he said.