Midfielder Callum Kearns is taking a relaxed view to his most recent comeback after returning to training with Bury Town on Monday.
The former Southend United trainee suffered a second career-threatening knee injury in the space of two years after just 55 minutes of Bury’s opening-day draw with Carshalton Athletic last August.
After 10 months of operations, healing and rehabilitation, Kearns kicked a ball for the first time since rupturing his cruciate ligament at that match at Ram Meadow, but has set himself no expectations of if and when he will return to football.
“After not knowing what was in the future, I finally got to a point where I was stepping up my fitness regime and I got a text from Wilks (Bury manager Richard Wilkins) to see how it was and to invite me to training,” said Kearns. “Getting that text from Wilks really motivated me into going back.
“If he had not done that, I might not have gone back so soon — it triggered some motivation in me.”
The Newmarket-based player first endured an injury nightmare when he was stretchered off in an FA Cup replay against Staines Town in October 2010.
He endured a difficult mental and physical recovery and made 17 appearances — nine from the bench — towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign, including a substitute role in the Isthmian League Cup final triumph at Staines— the scene of his injury.
With a full pre-season behind him, Kearns was selected in the starting line-up for the Blues’ first Ryman League Premier Division game of the season.
However, after 55 minutes the midfielder’s nightmare returned as he crumpled in a heap in the middle of the Ram Meadow pitch and was taken to hospital, where the worst was confirmed.
But Kearns believes his recovery has been easier second time around, even though he’s still not thinking about returning to the field of play.
“I think it was easier because I knew what to expect,” he said.
“When I had down days and couldn’t see a way out, I didn’t know how to deal with it.
“Any negativity I had second time around, I could always see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Should Kearns make his return to semi-professional football, it will not be until the end of September at the earliest, but he has no set plan at the moment.
“I’ll keep training, step it up with the ball work and focus on fitness,” he said.
“When I can, I’ll get involved in the match-related stuff.
“I’m literally taking it a day at a time — I’ve got no plans of if and when I’ll play again, I’m just being nice and relaxed.”
Reflecting on his return at the Blues’ first pre-season training session of the summer — which featured new faces such as Seb Dunbar and Ryan Semple — Kearns said: “I felt really good and one of the fittest there because I’ve been working hard.
“My knee doesn’t feel as stable or as strong as it did last summer at the moment, so it will be a few more sessions until I’ll get the feel of where I am with it.”