Wing wizard is ready to make up for lost time
After being out of action for more than five months because of a dislocated shoulder, it looks like Adam Wixted is poised to make his long-awaited comeback in Drogheda United colours.
Whether that happens against Avondale United in the FAI Cup this Friday or Wexford next week isn't yet clear, but the 24-year-old is chomping at the bit to make an impact after a disastrous season that he readily admits brought him to tears at one stage.
Having suffered the same injury a couple of years earlier, surgery was always going to be on the cards for the former Derby County underage player, but on the day he was due to undergo the procedure - April 24th - it was cancelled because he was still recovering from a heavy cold he had the week before.
The surgery eventually went ahead, but that period in between was something Wixted won't forget in a hurry.
'That was the hardest part,' he said. 'I knew I was going to need surgery and was prepared, and I went in to get the surgery and they told me I was too run-down and there was a high risk of getting infections.
'I begged them to do the surgery, but they refused and I broke down in tears. I struggled mentally for a couple of months. I didn't want to speak to family, friends, anyone. I'd had my heart set on getting the surgery done and getting back early, and when I found out it was postponed I was thinking my season had finished.
'It's been the toughest setback I've ever had to deal with, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
'I had to get labrum repair keyhole surgery and stick back the ligaments onto the joints in my shoulder, and thankfully it was successful. There's a low-percentage chance of it happening again and it's more likely it'll happen to the other shoulder.'
So what are the chances of Wixted making an appearance against Avondale United in the FAI Cup this week?
'I don't know if I'll be back for the cup game - there's a slight chance it might be next week,' he responded. 'We haven't put a set date on it and I don't want to get my hopes up too high.
'At the moment I'm working on my fitness and I'm very nearly there.'
Wixted can't expect to walk straight back into the starting line-up for a team who have won nine and drawn one of their last 12 fixtures, but it's that very success that's helped him get through the long road to recovery.
'I work for a tiling and stone restoration company but haven't been working [since I got injured] because it's a really physical job, and to be honest I don't know if I'm mentally ready yet. I'm focusing on football at the moment.
'What's been keeping me going is that the team are doing so well. If we don't win the league, which is likely, I still have a chance to play more games in the play-offs, and there's the cup as well, and it's giving me motivation.
'It has the potential to be a really exciting end to the season and that's what's motivating me to get back. There could be a lot of big games and I want to be involved in them.'
'There's only one way to get match fit and that's by playing matches, but just by being back around the team and feeling involved I'll be happy whether I play or not.'
Wixted knows very little about Avondale United, but whether he plays or not he's hoping Drogheda will live up to their favourites tag and progress to the next round. However, he's wary of what could happen after Sligo Rovers - for whom he played last year - suffered a surprise first round exit at home to Longford Town 12 months ago.
'The cup is massive for us. We're doing well in the league and nearly have the play-offs secured, but for me personally I get to play more games and feel I'm part of things if we do well in the cup.
'Avondale are supposed to be a decent team from what I've heard and they will be tough and physical. Anything can happen, but I think if we go into it with the right mind and the right intensity then we should go through.
'Losing [with Sligo against Longford] was a tough one to take. When you're favourites going into a game like that, I wouldn't say it changes your mindset, but you are expected to win and maybe complacency was part of it.
'We will have to be on our game and be professional.'