COLERAINE defender Aaron Traynor has targeted a first-team return in September after featuring in pre-season training…
The Bannsiders commenced their preparations for the 2019-20 campaign two weeks ago, with injured quartet Aaron Burns, Lyndon Kane, Alexander Gawne and Aaron Traynor all taking part.
It marks a significant step in Traynor’s recovery after the former Carrick Rangers full-back ruptured his ACL against Glenavon in September 2018 – an injury that ruled him out for the rest of last season.
However, speaking to colerainefc.com, the 28-year-old insists he will return to first-team action when he is fully fit.
“Alan Millar has been keeping a leash on me in terms of my rehab and training, but it’s only a matter of time before I take part in full sessions,” he said.
“I have been working hard in the gym and it was great to get the boots on and be involved last week because it was a hard injury to take.
“The boys have returned and look sharp but I’m not surprised as we want to hit the ground running after last season.
“Aaron Burns has taken part in full sessions which is a massive plus for us, with Alex and Lyndon also training with Alan and they are looking fitter and fitter.
“I haven’t been involved in keep ball sessions or anything like that, but my recovery has been getting better and better, so I’m looking forward to what lies ahead in the future.
“My aim is to return in September as we have some exciting fixtures ahead and I want to play my part, but I’ll be taking no chances and will return when I’m fully fit.”
Traynor – who was named in the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Team of the Year in 2017/18 – hadn’t realised he tore his ACL during the defeat to the Lurgan Blues.
“I’ll be honest, I hadn’t realised the extent of what happened as I’ve never suffered a bad injury in my career before,” he added.
“We were getting heavily beat and I went to turn and felt something, but I didn’t want to throw the towel in, so I played on.
“I took part in the full training session on Tuesday, but when I woke up on Wednesday, I knew something wasn’t right so the club arranged for me to get a scan.
“I received the results on the Thursday and it was difficult to take as I knew I’d be out for around a year.”
Traynor was an instrumental factor in the Stripes’ Irish Cup success in 2018, and he explains how hard it was to watch his team-mates from the sidelines.
“The last 10 months have been difficult as you go into the changing room and the players have the buzz of going out to train, or the build-up to a big game,” he continued.
“However, I would be going to the gym to do rehab work such as lunges and squats, but I’ve had to knuckle down and get on with it.
“It was even more tough to take as when I joined the club in 2017, our first friendly was against Rangers and I felt I was flying and we went on to win the Irish Cup and go so close to winning the league.
“Even last season before my injury, we beat Crusaders on Sky Sports to move top of the league and looked like we would go on another memorable campaign, but the heavy defeat to Glenavon set the tone for the season and we never recovered from that.
“I’m confident in the group of players we have here and I fully believe that if we get back on track, then there is no reason why we can’t bring more trophies back to Coleraine.”
Traynor heaped praise on his team-mates for how they have returned to pre-season training with a point to prove, as well as an excitement of linking up with Oran Kearney once again.
“Players have been working hard behind the scenes and we have came back as fit as we could,” he concluded.
“We have all put our head down, asked no questions and got on with the task in hand.
“I am ecstatic that Oran has returned to the club as he knows how to get the best out of players as Stephen O’Donnell, Josh Carson and I can testify.
“It’s perfect fit as 80% of the players here have featured under him before, with the other 20% now getting to work under a fantastic manager.”