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Interviews

Hopper Aiming For A Big 2019/20 Comeback Season

15 May 2019

Tom Hopper hopes to be back for pre-season and ready to go again at the start of the 2019/20 season.

The striker’s first season at the club got off to a flyer, scoring seven goals in 14 games, but it was cut short due to an ACL injury suffered against Walsall back in October.

However, with a ball back at his feet once again, he hopes to be ready come July to join in with first-team duties and with the aim of meeting, or even bettering, the standards and level of production that he showed in his brief spell.

Here's the full transcript from the interview with Hopper.

On his recovery…

Things are going well. It’s probably now about six and a half months down the line since the operation and it’s just been a case of getting back strong and being in the gym every day. I’ve been working with the physios and the team here, cracking on and taking each day as it comes as it’s a bit of a rollercoaster being injured. You have some good days and some bad days, especially with long-term injuries. There are times when you don’t want to get out of bed but you have to carry on doing it and things are coming on well.

Being back running and out on the grass now as well…

I’ve been back running for the last couple weeks. This week we’ve picked it up again out on the grass. We had the balls out yesterday which was nice to have a ball at the feet for the first time in a while. It’s a case of ticking boxes and progressing each day as long as everything goes well, and nothing reacts badly.

And while others are on holiday, you’re still here working hard…

This is a holiday! No, it’s part of it and when you’re injured the aim is to get back fit for pre-season and to be able to join back with the boys who have earned their rest. We achieved what we needed to achieve, ultimately it wasn’t the main aim at the start of the season but with how the season shaped out the boys have done that, so they deserve their rest. It’s a case of us injured boys working hard to join back to that group.

On what it’s like driving into an empty car park at the training ground at this time of the year…

These are the hard yards we have to put in and it’s imperative we do it because, ultimately, we’re paid to play football and currently we’re not doing that, so we need to give ourselves the best opportunity to be able to do that. The staff are here working just as hard as we are; whenever we’re here so are they. They are working hard with us and even though these days are quiet and there’s no one about, it’s a good test of character. It’s where you build your mental strength and it will stand you in better stead when the season gets going.

On his timeline to return…

I’m aiming to get going again in pre-season, as long as everything goes to plan this summer in terms of picking it up on the grass and everything reacts well to the work we do then I don’t see any reason why not. It’s about doing the right things and progressing it at the right pace to meet that timeline.

On a great end to the season after a difficult campaign on the whole…

Obviously at the start of the season it was never our aim to be in that sort of scrap come the end of the season but with all the incidents that have occurred throughout it, it’s been turbulent. I’m sure for the fans, staff, players and management it was never an easy ride. It was difficult watching it and not being able to play a part in any of it anyhow, but in the celebrations after Sunderland you saw the relief from everyone because we know we shouldn’t have been in that position but we dug deep enough to be able to keep ourselves out it. It was finally nice to give the fans something to celebrate.

How frustrating to get injured when you did after scoring seven in 14 games…

Yeah massively. It was shaping up to be a great season personally and I would have liked to think as a team we would have done well also. It didn’t happen, football happens like that so you have to take it on the chin and use it as motivation to come back next season and meet that standard again or try and better it. They will be the questions I’ll be asking myself personally if I’ll be able to do that and I’ll be aiming to do that. The hard yards now are all for that purpose.

On challenging the likes of Simon Cox and Stephen Humphrys next season…

100 per cent. They have both shown what they are capable of this season, they both had great seasons in different ways. Humphrys joined in January and then missed a bit with his injury as well and then obviously scoring. Coxy’s been solid throughout so being part of that is going to be great to firstly be working alongside them again and secondly to be a part of that sort of set up. It’s going to be competitive and that’s what you want.

On eventually having a few days away to rest and recuperate…

I’ll manage to get a few days in the summer but it won’t be a long one. It will be a nice little mental break and then straight back here and keep cracking on!

 


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