Luton skipper Sonny Bradley is hoping to be an ‘important’ player for the Hatters during the run-in after finally seeing an end to what he labelled a ‘mental’ spell on the sidelines with injury.
The 30-year-old has suffered more than most in recent months after complications with surgery and then contracting Covid for a third time as after featuring in the 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United on January 22, he missed the next 15 matches before returning to the bench for the 2-2 home draw with Millwall.
He came on in the 1-1 draw at Peterborough a week ago, Town conceding a late leveller, before being included from the opening whistle at the John’s Smith Stadium on Monday night for what was a 2-0 defeat to Town’s play-off rivals.
On his spell out of the side, Bradley said: “I don’t know how long you’ve got, but it was all a bit mental for myself.
"I don’t want to talk about it too much as I’m looking forward now and I’m positive, but I had a double hernia, a sportsman’s groin operation.
"I thought I was past it, a week after I had it, something happened where my small intestine got stuck to the scarring, I got rushed into hospital and I had to have a second operation.
"So in the space of 10 days, I had two operations, pretty big operations, and then I caught Covid, so my luck within that six weeks was terrible.
“It’s the third time I’ve had Covid, I don’t know anybody else on this planet who has had it three times, but when I’ve had it, it’s hit me hard every time.
"I wasn’t due to be out for this long, but that’s just the way its gone and now I’m looking forward.
"I feel fit, I wasn’t 100 per cent tonight, but I knew was I needed and I gave everything, now I can push on, gain more fitness and get better within the next five games.
“For me personally it’s just a case of pressing on now and getting fit, hoping I can be an important player in the team for the next five games.”
Although the result didn’t go either Bradley or the Hatters’ way in Yorkshire on Monday, he was elated to be out on the pitch once more though, adding: “It felt amazing, any player that’s injured will tell you it’s a frustrating time and it certainly was for myself.
"I’ve come into the game and it’s a game where, especially with the first half, we’ve got control of the game, control of the ball.
"I think when we get it right within a formation and your pattern of play is good then it’s easier to step in and make it work.
"The sports science team here has been outstanding with me again, they've pushed me, they've got me fit and put me in a place where I can now comfortably in myself, play 90 minutes.
"For myself I knew my timing headers a little bit was off, but that does happen through lack of fitness and coming back into it.
"Even by Friday (against Nottingham Forest) that will pick up and I will get better.”
Bradley has been one of a number of players missing for Town in recent weeks, particularly defensively, as Reece Burke, Tom Lockyer, Gabe Osho and Kal Naismith have all been absent at various stages.
Although Naismith is now back and Burke on the verge of returning, the Hatters were dealt another two blows on Monday night with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Henri Lansbury both forced off with knee and neck problems.
The skipper added: “I think the manager would love to have a fully fit squad, but the shifts that some of the boys have put in, the likes of Pell and a few others who were injured, Pell has played a lot of football this season, even through injury.
"I think he’s come into today with an injury, but again, he’s given everything from the time he was on the pitch and unfortunately it’s cost him.
“We just hope that we can get him back in as soon as possible, but at the same time the players are getting injured, people are coming back into the squad as well.
"Luke Berry is nearly fit now, hopefully he’ll be available, Reece Burke is coming back in as well.
"I think we’ve got more than enough to see us through to the end of the season, but it’s not nice at any time for some of your bigger players to be injured.”