Town stopper praises Luton's physios and team-mate Glen Rea for helping him over serious knee injury

Town keeper James Shea - pic: David Horn – Prime Media Images / LTFCTown keeper James Shea - pic: David Horn – Prime Media Images / LTFC
Town keeper James Shea - pic: David Horn – Prime Media Images / LTFC
Keeper is back in the match-day squad now following lengthy spell on the sidelines

​​Town keeper James Shea was eager to praise the club’s physio department and team-mate Glen Rea for their help in his quicker than expected return to the first team squad following a serious knee injury last season.

The 31-year-old admitted he had expected to be out for the entire campaign after hobbling off against Cardiff in April, but has been fit enough to return to the bench for the last 11 games, in place of transfer window arrival Jack Walton following his groin problem.

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Having spent an extensive amount of time in the treatment room at the Brache, the fact Shea could be named in the squad was thanks in no small part to the work done by the Hatters' backroom staff, as he said: “I’ve got to say the physio department were unbelievable.

"I owe them a lot, they were brilliant with me from day one when I first did my knee.

“They helped me through it all, they gave me the work I had to do to get my knee right.”

Recovering from injury can be a very lonely place for a footballer, which meant that doing it alongside another player in Rea, who had suffered his second serious knee injury during a loan spell at Wigan, eased the personal burden.

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The midfielder is now back playing with a loan spell at League One Cheltenham Town, as Shea continued: “I did have Glen with me, that was another plus as I could talk to Glen every single day.

"He said he found his last one (knee injury) harder as he did it on his own.

"This time, where we had each other, we’d bounce off each other as well, which was brilliant.

"When he had a down day I’d pick him up and when I had a down day, he’d pick me up.

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"We got on really, really well, and we got each other through it.

"We pushed each other, we worked really hard, and I’m buzzing to see Glen at Cheltenham and playing.”

Just being able to take his recovery process outside was something that gave Shea a massive boost as well, even if it was going through the most simple of tasks at times, as he said: “What also helped me was I was out on the grass really early doing some handling.

"I’d go out with Kev (Dearden) and we’d do baby stuff in terms of goalkeeping, but he’d get me outside instead of just sitting and doing the same old gym stuff every day.

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“They were very good with that, they’d mix it up as one day we’d go swimming, which I hated, but it was good.

"Then the day before a game, I’d go out with Kev and do just some basic handling, get the technique going again, just so I don’t lose it.

"The hand eye coordination, just basic stuff, but that was the stuff that got me through it and that was brilliant.”

With his injury now ready to be tested in a match situation, it was last month that Shea was able to get a run-out when starting for the U21s in their goalless draw against Reading.

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On being back out and in the thick of things once more, he said: “I loved it, it was nice waking up knowing I’m going to go and play a game.

"I was there about two hours before the kick-off, so early, and it was just great, a perfect game for me.

"I kept a clean sheet and I remember in the first three or four minutes, they’ve put a ball through and I’ve come out, slid out for it, it was probably my most pleasing thing about the whole game, as I wasn’t thinking about my knee.

"I didn’t think about my knee at all.”​

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