PETER Hartley completed a speedy return from injury last weekend against Cambridge United......after initially fearing he would be out of action for three months.
The Pilgrims’ centre-back found himself sidelined towards the end of November after an accidental collision with a team-mate during training injured his foot, which has caused Peter problems on other occasions in his career.
After spending a week on crutches and having to wear a “space boot” amid fears of a broken foot, things suddenly took a turn for the better for Hartley, culminating in his return to action in the Greens’ previous fixture just three weeks after the injury.
“I kicked the bottom of Ryan Lane’s foot,” said Peter, “so I sort of opened up an old fracture where the bone had fused and calcified in my foot that I didn’t even know about. Thank God it wasn’t an actual fracture.
“I got the news that I broke my foot so, mentally, I was thinking three months [out], and then the guy’s rang up a week later saying we can inject it. I had my mindset on coming back in three months so that benefited me a lot.
“I felt like Christmas had come early. When the gaffer put me straight back in on Saturday, I felt like I was making my debut; on Friday night, I couldn’t sleep! I was so excited to play – I was chomping at the bit. I had a little down patch five days into my injury where I was thinking the worst, and I met the local chaplain, Arthur, and just said a little prayer with him, and obviously it must’ve worked.
“I’m feeling better every day, and just getting through training, working hard and getting my fitness back. I worked hard whilst being injured, so I don’t feel as though I’ve missed much, with regards to being off the pace with the boys. I’ve worked really hard since I got injured, because I just had my mind set on coming back fitter and stronger.”
Peter’s progress has been a welcome relief to an injury-hit Argyle squad, as the busy period of festive fixtures begins. Whilst many players coming off of an injury may shirk at the idea of multiple games a week, Hartley believes the quick run of games through December is the perfect way for him to maintain his fitness.
“To be honest with you,” said Peter, “the games are easier than training, so the more games I play, the more recovery we do, and the less training we do.
“Training is tough, but we’ve got a really, really talented group of lads, and we set very high standards. No-one accepts anything below what we have a bar with, and if you train hard, the games are easy; that’s the motto we go for.
“It works out better for me with the type of injury I’ve got, because I can literally play, rest, recover, ice, and play again, rather than having to play, and then get through the training sessions for another game.
“The more games I have in such a short space of time, it works out more beneficial for myself, because I’m literally playing, recovering, then focussing on the next game.”