DEANE Smalley is back.
The Argyle striker made a successful return from injury in the Pilgrims’ Peninsula League match at Penryn this week, making his comeback with a goal in a 3-3 draw.
The game came exactly 300 days after the 27-year-old damaged the cruciate ligament and cartilage in his right knee when he tackled team-mate Ollie Norburn in training.
Assistant manager Craig Brewster, coach Paul Wotton and head physio Paul Atkinson were all at Kernick Road to see Deane start the match for Kevin Nancekivell’s Advanced Development side.
“I’m just glad to be back, running around on the pitch again,” said Deane, in an exclusive interview on Argyle Player.
“Initially, the plan was to play 30-45 minutes, just to see how the knee held out, but I got to half-time and said to Nance I wanted to play the full game. He was like ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ and he brought me off after [another] 20-25 minutes.
“Mentally, it’s massive encouragement. It’s brilliant to be back. I think it’s what I’ve needed for the last couple of months, since I’ve been back in training.”
There is still some way to go before Deane will be in a position to resume a first-team career that saw him score twice in 18 appearances after signing for the Pilgrims in the summer of 2014.
His rehab may continue this weekend, when Argyle’s Advanced Development side travel to Wendron for their latest Peninsula League match.
Deane’s progress will be monitored by Atkinson, who been an ever-present help during his recovery.
“He’s been brilliant with me,” he said, “and not just him, everyone around – the players, the staff, everyone – but having Paul by my side every day...he’s been a massive encouragement, a massive help.”
See the full interview with Deane Smalley on Argyle Player here.