Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson has opened up about the “incredibly difficult period” he has endured on the sidelines.
The 27-year-old suffered a leg break in the season opener against Sligo Rovers back on February 15th and would remain on the sidelines for some four-and-a-half months before coming off the bench 11 minutes from the end of last Friday’s 1-0 win away to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.
He stepped up that recovery with another 24 minute cameo in last night’s 3-0 win at home to Waterford FC.
While the year to date has been one of frustration for the Athlone native, Benson says he is hopeful of making whatever contribution he can between now and the end of the season.
“It’s been an incredible difficult period for me so just to be back in a proper routine now is nice after a long period out,” he said.
“The team are in good form now. I don’t know how many wins that is in-a-row now but we’re in good form going into Europe and I’m just hoping to contribute in any way that I can now for the second half of the season.”
The former UCD player admitted there were some dark days during his recovery period but praised his team-mates and, in particular, the club’s medical staff for keeping his spirits up.
Benson said: “I actually found the first couple of weeks the easiest because you know you’ve a long time in front of you but it’s when you get to the sixth, seventh and eighth week and it’s dragging on and you have a little setback that it gets really hard.
“Every time you step forward you feel like you’ve another problem and the finish line just seems so far away and you feel no closer.
“They were particularly tough weeks but I’m through the other side of it. Having said that I’ve a long way to go before I’m back to tip-top shape but half hour periods like that will help me for sure.
“All the medical staff from Danny Miller, David Murphy and Dr David Connolly have been tremendous to me in keeping my spirits up and going out of their way for me. I can’t speak highly enough of them and all the lads who are injured at any one time really row in behind each other to keep each other’s spirits up. It’s a great little family we have here and I’m grateful for all the help I’ve got from team-mates and staff over the last while while I’ve been going through a tough time.”
Benson said he still feels he is some way off full fitness but reiterated his desire to help the side out in any way he could.
“I’ve obviously spent a long time out so I’m not going to be at the levels that the lads are.
“I remember about two or three weeks ago when I knew I’d be back relatively soon I was watching the little 8v8s in training and I just said ‘Jesus, I’m so far off the standards that are being shown at training’.
“Coming off a broken leg half way through the season, I’m just looking to contribute in any way that I can whether that’s getting a half hour to see out games, 10 minutes to see out games or to start when lads need a break. Whatever way I can contribute for the rest of the season I’ll be happy and I’ll get great satisfaction in helping this team go as far as we can on all fronts.”
Having not played too much in his debut season, it was put to Robbie that he came into prominence in the memorable 2016 European run – netting three goals – while he was also reminded of his strong record over the years against Friday night’s opponents Derry City.
“That’s it, you never know how things will go,” he said.
“Lads can pick up injuries like myself at the start of the season. That created opportunities for lots of lads to impress. Obviously you’d never wish injuries on any lads in the team especially when you go through a situation like that yourself but things can change overnight or someone can lose form or anything.
“Any combination of players we put on the pitch though we’d be expecting to give it a right crack against anyone. The manager will have a job on his hands now keeping everyone happy but that’s his job. Everyone rows behind everyone though.
I’ve a good record against Derry and Rovers. I was reminding Vinny, Higs and Giller over the break of my record against Rovers just to make sure that I was in their thoughts.
“I’ve done well against Derry too, especially in the Brandywell. In the last few years I’ve scored a fair few goals up there so I’ll be sure to remind him again of that during the week,” he grinned.
It’s good to have Benson back. He might feel he’s a bit away from being back to his full powers at the moment but it surely won’t be long until he’s lighting up games like he was never away.