From the outside, you would be pessimistic about Richie Towell's situation at Brighton. Since joining the club midway through last season, he's made just two appearances for them. The first came in the FA Cup in January, the second four months later in the playoff semi-final.
A knee injury sustained during the pre-season has so far kept him out of action this season. There is good reason to be optimistic, though.
Speaking on Second Captains, Richie Sadlier told of a meeting he recently had with Towell. Sadlier said that Towell is 'loving it' at Brighton and is 'doing great'. He also added that the injury came at an unfortunate time for the 25-year-old. The build-up to his first full season at the club was incredibly encouraging. Pre-season physical tests showed him to be one of the best, if not the best athlete in Brighton manager Chris Hughton's squad.
He was flying in pre-season, did all the fitness and strength tests, virtually won them all. He was the standout athlete in the Brighton squad. He was going to start the first pre-season game in the middle of midfield. Things could not have gone better but he hurt his knee. He was actually carrying this knee injury for a while. That interrupted his progress.
Richie Towell injury problems
Towell himself spoke to Brighton's club website this week about the injury and his road to recovery.
It’s going really well. I had a bit of a setback to begin with, but since then it’s been going in the right direction.
I’ve started running again, and the knee feels strong. I am now looking forward to coming back and training with the lads.
Hopefully I’ll then get back to playing for the under-23s first and then progress from there.
Chris Hughton said last week that Towell going out on loan in January is a possibility. He would certainly benefit from the game time if he hasn't managed to break into the first team by then.
Towell's description of the knee injury does make it sound particularly bad but fortunately it has healed.
I have been working with Shaun, the new physio, and any of the lads will tell you he’s really tough and makes you work really hard, which I like. I probably feel just as fit now as I did when I was playing and that’s credit to him.
I had a hole in the back of my knee which was unusual, and I had a cist there too, so it was a lot worse than I actually thought.
It was quite big and a bit of the cartilage had gone too. Luckily enough, it seems to have healed and there’s no fluid in it anymore.
I just need to progress gradually and do a bit more running with a change of direction to make sure the knee is still flexible, then get back training with the lads.
Then they’ll let me play back in a game, because I’m dying to be involved again and it’s been a long time.
Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE