Shamrock Rovers defender Byrne ready to put injury nightmare behind him
SHAMROCK Rovers defender Luke Byrne is looking forward to a first league start in over a year after recovering from a draining injury nightmare.
The Rovers left full is set to start tomorrow night's league meeting with Limerick due to a suspension that has ruled out first choice Trevor Clarke.
It's a welcome slice of fortune for the 23-year-old who was left demoralised by a dreadful knee injury that he suffered against Cork a year ago this week.
That was the ex-Bohemians player's first league outing of 2016 with injury curtailing his involvement since moving to Rovers.
The cruciate problem he suffered last April was a serious one and a couple of surgeons were sceptical about operating but the Rovers medical team nursed him through with Maurice Neligan at the Beacon Hospital performing the successful surgery.
Byrne is relieved to be back in the game with an EA Sports meeting with Bohemians last week marking his official return and proving to be a real confidence booster.
"It's great to be back," he said today, "it was a long time coming and you think it will never happen as it's so far away in the distance, you have so many little things to focus on before you can get back playing. I am delighted now every day walking around, going into training, it's just brilliant.
"It was a big relief to get that game last week, it's always in the back of your mind, just get through this game so it was a relief, I felt fit, I didn't think I was struggling at any stage. The coaching and medical staff have been very thorough, I have been back training for a good while now so I was in the best position possible going into that game."
Byrne admits that he found it hard in the early stages of his rehab and his initial preference was to stay away from games when the mood was low.
"When you are injured it's not nice - you feel useless around the place," he continued, "At the start I couldn't even come and watch games, I couldn't even watch training, I was staying indoors all day with the physio to get my work done.
"It was too close to home, and it took me a while. I just love football so I eventually got back to going out and watching training every day."
Clarke has impressed after converting to left-full, which means that Byrne is aware that he faces a challenge to get a prolonged run in the side but he can see a scenario where both could feature as they are versatile enough to play in a couple of positions.
"The only way Trevor was going to get left out was if he was suspended, that's how well he's been playing, he has been fantastic," added Byrne.
"He came in as a winger, he'd played there with the Irish youth teams, I would have always seen him as someone who could play at left back as he is so good at driving from deep and going past players. He has a great tackle as well and unfortunately for me he has probably been the best left back in the country this year.
"The country is sitting up and taking notice of him now. Hopefully I will get to play with him at some stage.