herald

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cunningham insists club and country success driving return to game

ONE of the finest Irish prospects around can see light at the end of the tunnel after a nightmare period out with a career-threatening injury.





Greg Cunningham is ready to resume training next week – and that will allow the Galway lad the chance to try and force his way back into the reckoning with club and country.

Things are going pretty well for |Cunningham's teams at club and international level right now: Ireland's |senior team are unbeaten in five games and have kept five successive clean sheets, while Manchester City are in second place – on goal difference – in the Premier League table.

Full-back Cunningham hasn't played a part in any of that as he's been sidelined since he suffered a broken leg in January while on loan at Leicester City, but the 20-year-old has been given the all-clear to resume full training with |City and he hopes to be back playing matches within a month.

“It's been a long road, eight full months out injured but I am nearly there,” Cunningham told the Herald while on a break in Galway this week.

“Things are going well and I'm almost at the end of my rehab. I will go into training this week, do a bit on Friday and Saturday, and then get back into full training next Tuesday, so I am really looking forward to that. It's been a hard time and I just can't wait to get back.

Serious

“I really appreciate it more because the injury was so serious.

“With the medical staff and equipment we have at Manchester City, I got the best treatment possible. People have told me that if I'd had this injury 15 or 20 years ago, it could have finished my career but with the surgery and the

help available now, I was able to get back and try to get my career going again.

“The operation went well, I was discharged after three days and it's been a hard slog since then but, please God, I'm at the end of the road now and I can stay clear of injury for a while.”

At the start of the year, things were going really well for Cunningham. He'd made the City first team at the start of last season, making one appearance in the Carling Cup, and had also broken into the Ireland side, winning three caps (against Algeria, Argentina and Norway), had a new contract with City secured and was enjoying a loan spell under Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester.

Ireland-wise, he was a real prospect as he and Seamus Coleman were |emerging as serious candidates for the full-back slots.

But 13 was his unlucky number as, mid-way through the second half of his 13th appearance for the Foxes, he suffered a broken leg in a 1-0 win away to Hull City – on New Year's Day.

“It was called a broken tib-fib, a |compound fracture of the tibia and the fibula, so it was a very serious injury,” he said. “I was just glad to get back, and get back to where I am now.”

Cunningham is pleased to see |his club mates at the Etihad Stadium enjoy their good start to this season’s Premier League campaign and he's also enjoyed Ireland's recent run, the double success making him more eager to get back in both folds.

Gutted

“I'm just gutted to be missing all this football at the moment,” he said. “Ireland have two massive games in the next few days and I'd give anything to be fit and in the squad.

“I won't get to the Aviva Stadium on Friday as I'm due back at the club for some rehab but I'll watch on TV and I think we have a chance to get six points from the two games.

“Same with City, the boys have had a great start to the new season, we have a lot to be excited about, especially with the Champions League and the FA Cup. I just want to be part of that again”.

Cunningham has made four first-team appearances for City but he knows that with the money sloshing around the club now, it's going to be hard to get back into the first-team squad when fit.

“I have to get fit and get back playing, it won't happen for me overnight,” he said. “I know I'll need a fair few reserve games and maybe another loan move to get me to the level they need. But I know what I can do, if I can get fit and get some games under my belt, I can have a chance,” added the Irishman.

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