Jimmy Bullard admits he is struggling to watch Fulham fight for their Premier League lives as he tries to recover from a devastating knee injury.
The midfielder, so sorely missed at Craven Cottage this season, stepped up his rehabilitation this week – jogging on a treadmill for the first time since rupturing his knee ligaments and dislocating his kneecap in September. Specialist Dr Richard Steadman admitted the injury was one of the worst he’s ever seen but Bullard believes he can be back fit next season and won’t be leaving Fulham even if they go down.
Bullard told the Daily Mail:
“I owe Fulham a lot. They paid for me to go and see Steady, and backed what I wanted to do. It would be bad of me to knock them out of the window if we go down and say: ‘See you, I’m on ’ my way’. I want to play for Fulham for as long as possible. I love it here.”
“You feel a sense of guilt being injured. The lads are getting a battering from the gaffer and you’re standing there in the changing room and it doesn’t feel right. You just have to walk out. There’s nothing you can really do about it.”
Bullard says he has tried to maintain a sense of perspective when dealing with difficult times during his recovery.
“Believe me, there’s been some hard times. But there’s a lot of people out there a lot worse off than me. I went to see Steady and I’m sitting on the bed with my head in my hands and in comes a fella with no legs. I didn’t get talking to him but he seemed happy enough. You realise you’re lucky after all. I’m going to be back playing, I know I am. It’s a year out of my career but I know I’ll get that back further down the line.”
Steady has this aura about him. He looks a bit like a wizard. When I was first in the room with him, he turned the lights off and he was feeling my knee, trying to feel pulses and stuff. It’s weird but he’s obviously got something. You just have total trust in him.
“I’ve never been a fan of hospitals, needles, surgery but with him I’ve let it all go and said do whatever it takes to get me back. He just said: ‘We’ll get you back’. And I know that he will.”
His mischievous side still shines through.
“I’ve had a whole year to work on my strength and give it a real crack in the gym. I’ve got so much power in my body now, I’ll be back with thighs like Arnie. I feel mentally fresh. There’s none of the little nicks on your ankles and you’re not doing all the travelling.
“I’ve always thought I’m a late developer. I still haven’t stopped growing and I’m still going to put a few more kilos on. I don’t think I’ll be fully matured and hitting my peak until I’m 30. That’s what my dad’s been saying since I was 17 and he’s always been right about me throughout my career. When I went to West Ham, I was 19 but I was in a 15-year-old’s body. My dad told me to treat it like a YTS even though I signed as a professional, so it wasn’t a big setback mentally when I stepped down to join Peterborough.”