SUNDERLAND midfielder David Meyler has admitted that his eight-month lay-off through injury has triggered a feeling of absence making the heart grow fonder.
Meyler has recently begun his steady return to action having been missing for the best part of this year, with a handful of appearances for the reserves and a fleeting substitute’s cameo in the two-all home draw with West Brom last week – much earlier than expected thanks to fellow midfielder David Vaughan withdrawing from the squad via an illness.
The Irishman has been on the wrong end of some wretched injury luck as despite threatening to make a midfield berth his own, a bad knock has ensured he knows the club’s treatment room like the back of his hand.
Back in January with Sunderland on a run which promised much but in the end delivered little, Meyler was involved in the 1-0 win at Aston Villa but did not see the finish thanks to a cruciate ligament injury – just months after recovering from a similar blow.
However, the 22-year-old is back on the pitch and concedes all this time on the treatment table has had him pining for this moment.
“I’m getting stronger and I’m just happy to be back playing,” Meyler told the club’s offical website. “When you spend eight months out at a time you realise just how much you love and miss the game.
“I can’t wait to get back fully but you can’t rush these things. Now I want to put it all behind me, get back playing regularly and hopefully being injury-free.
“It was an honour to be back on the bench and I was thrilled to get on for the last couple of minutes (against West Brom). Even though it was only for a few minutes, it was still nice to play.
“There’s a great positivity around the place. This is what I want to do, it’s everything I dreamt of as a boy, so you can’t dwell on things - you have to concentrate on getting yourself right. I still take every day as it comes. When I first got injured I’d set little plans out, but after doing it twice I just take it day by day.
“I go from session to session and game to game – it’s the easiest and best way. My focus every day is on improving myself and getting stronger and fitter.”
Away from Wearside, Sunderland had a number of stars in international action last night. Sebastian Larsson struck for Sweden in their 2-1 win in Finland.
Striker Ji Dong-Won played in South Korea’s two-all draw at home to Poland while John O’Shea started for the Republic of Ireland in Andorra.
Meanwhile, six of club’s Premier League fixtures have been rescheduled, with three selected for live broadcast by Sky.
The trip to Wolves – scheduled for 3pm on Saturday, December 3 – has now been switched to a 4pm start on the Sunday, with the Black Cats in front of the Sky cameras again a week later, when Blackburn visit for a 1.30pm kick-off.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League commitments mean the game at White Hart Lane is now a 3pm kick-off on Sunday, December 18 – forcing the subsequent midweek trip to QPR to be moved back 24 hours to Wednesday, December 21 (8pm).
Sunderland are back on live television on New Year’s Day, 24 hours later than originally planned, when they entertain Manchester City (3pm), meaning the trip to Wigan Athletic scheduled for the following day now takes place on Tuesday, January 3 (7.45pm).