Marcus Browne has moved to thank the Boro fans for playing such an important part in his continued recovery after surgery that left him with “pretty much a new knee.”
The 23-year-old has been sidelined since the turn of the year after suffering a serious injury during the FA Cup defeat at Brentford, but after a week’s break in sunnier climes, he is now back at Rockliffe and working hard as he looks to re-build his fitness.
“It’s good to be back,” said Marcus. “The weather is good so I can do my stuff outside. I’ve just had a week off for the first time since I had the surgery in January, but I’m back now and focused on getting fit as soon as possible.”
“It was a bad situation, but it was good to have that love and appreciation from people.”
The injury came the week after he marked his first league start of the season with his second goal of the campaign, one which was enjoyed by his team-mates and fans alike during the win at Wycombe.
“The support and love was unbelievable and it showed it was a special goal, especially when I’d not been in the team before that,” he recalled. “I’d worked hard getting into the team and for me it was a real turning point and felt like I’d arrived.
“It had been a bumpy road because at the start of the season I’d spoken to the gaffer about whether I was going to stay or go, and we decided I’d stay. I’d got it in my head then that I had to prove myself to him, gain his trust and prove that I am worthy of playing here.
“Come December I managed to get myself in the team after putting the graft in. I felt myself again, I scored the goal, and then I got injured at Brentford a few days later. It’s been a bumpy road, but I’m still in good spirits.”
If Wycombe was the high point of his Boro career – coming 18 months after his arrival from West Ham United – then Brentford seven days later was a hammer blow.
“I was gutted myself and the messages and calls I received made me realise that people cared for me,” he said. “It was a bad situation, but it was good to have that love and appreciation from people.”
He was left needing oxygen as he was stretchered from the pitch six minutes into the second half of the FA Cup tie amid grave fears and concerns over the severity of the injury. The scans that followed told a sorry story, painting a grim picture of his knee, and left the Londoner facing a long and hard road to recovery.
“I’m strong mentally,” he explained. “It’s one of those things that can happen in football. You never know if you’re going to get injured, but it could happen and it could be just around the corner so I had to take it in my stride and crack on and try and get back as soon as I can.
“I think it helps being in good spirits and smiling and bouncing about. That makes your re-hab easier than if you were down in the dumps.
“My operation was in January and hopefully if everything goes smoothly it will be October/November time…but I’m not putting a time on it. That’s hoping everything goes smoothly and making sure I do everything I need to come back firing and ready to go again.
“I couldn’t do anything after the op because of the pain and the swelling, but five months on now I’m doing a lot of strengthening work, trying to build things up around my knee.
“Because of the nature of the operation it’s practically a new knee I’m dealing with. I need to get my body adapted to how my knee is. Working on the bike helps me get that basic level of fitness back.”
And it’s while on this road to recovery that the messages of goodwill and support have played such a big part in helping the player keep his spirits up and remain positive.
“The support has been unbelievable,” he said. “I still get messages now asking how I’m doing and wishing me the best in my recovery.
“Things like that have helped me and been so important. I don’t think I’d have had the same if it had come just after the Swansea game in my first season here, but it’s been fantastic and I’ve really felt that love and affection.
“It’s made me feel a real part of the club and it’s helped me through my re-hab.”