After nearly 20 months out injured, Alan Judge finally made his return to action on Tuesday afternoon.
The 29-year-old suffered a double fracture of his leg while playing for Brentford against Ipswich in April 2016. Just two weeks previous, Judge had made his international debut in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly against Switzerland.
The Dubliner had been in superb form that season, scoring 14 goals and providing 11 assists prior to the injury. He was also named Brentford Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the Year.
Such was his form, it was widely expected he would have been part of Martin O'Neill's squad for Euro 2016.
Judge started and scored on Tuesday as the Brentford B-team took on Barnet U23s. It took him just 10 minutes to get off the mark and he completed 45 minutes of the game.
Penalty to #BrentfordB after 10 minutes. Who steps up to score it? ALAN JUDGE! 1-0 Brentford!
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) December 5, 2017
After returning to training last month, Judge admitted that there were times when he doubted that his comeback would ever happen. Initially, he had been expected to return to action towards the end of last season. However, further surgery was required to assist his recovery.
The last 18 months have been hard. There were days where I thought that I wasn’t getting any better, and I certainly had a few of them, but you have to go home, wake up the next day, and go again.
It is all little markers for me now. On Friday, Florian Jozefzoon took me out in training, which is a massive thing for me. You need to get hit in training and I got hit. He maybe didn’t catch me right on the leg but things like that go through your mind. I think that I have been quite good with it: you can’t hide the fact that you need to go into a challenge. If you pull out then you know that there is something wrong and I have been quite pleased with myself there.
People ask me if I am excited to be back in training and I tell them that I will be excited when I play my first game.
Hopefully, his return to Brentford first-team action is not too far off.
Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE