BRAD Lyons spoke to Steven Crawford after returning from injury in last weekend’s draw against Crusaders…
The midfielder suffered a double cheekbone fracture against Linfield in October, but made his comeback against the Crues last weekend. The 20-year-old admitted his hard work off the pitch paid dividends as the injury healed.
“It was unbelievable to be back out playing again,” Lyons said.
“I’ve been working hard, Oran, Trevor and Winkie have been putting me through my paces the last two or three weeks – it was like a mini pre-season.
“They absolutely ran the legs off me.
“Coming back I knew my fitness and sharpness was better than ever.
“It’s a brilliant feeling being back in the matchday squad again,and being part of everything again. You’re not looking over and having to watch them train.”
Lyons admitted he had some fears before entering the pitch, but once he won his first header everything returned to normal.
“When I got injured I said that the first header or challenge when I came back it would be in the back of my mind what happened, but once that’s out of the way then you don’t even think about it again,” Lyons added.
“The doctors and consultant told me I’m healed up and stronger than ever, so you can’t let those thoughts affect you.
“The mask helps too psychologically.
“Once I got the first header and the first tackle out of the way I just played as normal.”
The Stripes lead the Danske Bank Premiership by six points, but the Ballymoney man insists the players are feeling no pressure to maintain their advantage.
“We have a lot of experienced players in our side, and players who have been here a long time who know what it is like to be at the other end of the table,” Lyons revealed.
“There’s so much pressure on when you’re down there.
“But there’s no pressure where we are at now, everyone is buzzing being at the top of the league.
“We go out and enjoy ourselves, training is unbelievable, we want to win as much in training as we do on a Saturday.
“If you don’t have that on a Tuesday and Thursday then how are you going to have it on a Saturday?
“All that comes from the coaching staff Oran Kearney and Winkie Murphy have won everything in Irish League football, and Trevor McKendry has such a knowledge of the game.
“If you don’t get a buzz of them and learn from them, then who can you listen to in the Irish League?”
Lyons was quick to wish his good friend Lyndon Kane a speedy recovery as the full-back has been out with a metatarsal injury.
“Lyndon is going to be a key player when he comes back,” Lyons continued.
“It has been very tough for him to miss so much of the season with injury. As a close friend I know just how difficult it has been for him.
“But he’s strong as ever now, he’s back in training and he cannot wait to be back playing again.
“Getting players back from injury means there will be plenty of battles for the starting eleven.
“If we are playing like the way we are without a lot of competition for places, when the players come back it’s going to up our game even more.”