MAX Porter is determined to play his part in a second successive promotion push for Newport County AFC despite being told by a surgeon earlier this season that he may be forced to retire.
The influential midfielder missed the Exiles’ Wembley play-off victory in May and says he has not been fully fit for around 14 months now.
His aborted comeback from a serious groin injury in August led to one expert advising him to quit the sport he loves but the 26-year-old is fighting back to fitness.
Porter made his long-awaited return to the fold on Saturday when he was named on the bench for the visit of Northampton Town and he hopes to be back on the pitch soon, not that he’ll rush anything this time.
“I was desperate to play in pre-season and the start of the League Two campaign but in hindsight it was the biggest mistake I’ve made,” he said. “It just made the injury far worse.
“I wasn’t training; I was just trying to play games. I played against Accrington then had to miss the Brighton game in the cup because I was so sore.
“Then in the Northampton game I couldn’t strike the ball more than 15 yards without pain and I realised I was doing the team a disservice really.
“The surgeon I went to see then told me that I’d probably have to retire or at best I might be able to play part-time.”
Porter credits former international pole vaulter Paul Williamson, now a physio at the Football Association training base St George’s Park, with saving his career.
“I went to St George’s Park as a last resort and that first week there in October really made me feel for the first time that I could get back,” he said.
“Before that I was lost but I owe Paul Williamson everything. He had to retire with the same injury so he knew all about it and I knew I was in good hands.
“He told me he could get me back but that it would be a hard slog, and it has been!
“Him and our new physio Adam Roche have been fantastic and since October I’ve been back a couple more times to St George’s Park and I’m feeling a lot better now.
“I’ve been gradually eased back into training and I’ve trained for three weeks now without a problem so it is good news but it’s still day to day.
“I need a few reserve games before I’m ready to play again but hopefully I’m not too far off being involved in the squad again.”
Porter also paid tribute to his family and friends for putting up with him in what has been a long road to recovery.
“I haven’t really been fully fit since November 2012,” he explained. “The last game I played pain-free was Alfreton away (a 4-3 defeat on November 9 that year).
“After the Welling game in the FA Trophy at the end of that month I had a steroid injection to keep playing but then I tore my groin against Lincoln last January.
“I have to thank the club because they’ve been brilliant with me and my family, especially my mum, and my girlfriend as well because I’ve been a nightmare to live with!
“It has been a horrible year and I don’t think I realised how much not being involved in the play-offs was going to affect me.
“I know I played my part in last season but I felt like an outcast. I celebrated with the boys after Wembley but I didn’t really feel a part of it.
“Now I just want to get back fit and playing and concentrate on enjoying my football.”