Alan Judge: You always think, 'Am I going to get back to it?'

Wed, Mar 20 2019

Alan Judge in action for Ireland back in 2016. Credit: Eoin Smith (ETPhotos)

Ireland midfielder Alan Judge insists he is hungry for minutes having come out the other end of a two and a half year injury nightmare and feels he is just a goal away from getting back to his past form.

The 30-year-old Dubliner is currently plying his trade with Championship side Ipswich Town and although the side are currently bottom of the league, he is just delighted to be back playing football after a tough few years.

“Look, I had a hard two and a half years, I got back fit and then I'm sitting on the bench. It's just the way it goes.

“The chance came up to go to Ipswich and play every week and there's no way I was going to turn that down.

“As I said, the last two or three years haven't been the easiest, but I've gone and just enjoyed my football so much recently, I know we're bottom of the league at Ipswich, but I just enjoy every minute of it at the moment and to be back playing regular football is something that I’m delighted with.

“I feel that's the reason why I've got myself back in here around the Ireland camp and I'm starting to show what I've done before. I'm just a goal, I feel, away from getting to that good form again.”

Judge signed on a permanent deal with Championship club Brentford in 2014 following a successful loan spell the previous season.

During his loan spell with the side earlier in the year he famously scored a penalty against Preston which would be the goal that secured his side’s promotion to the Championship that season with three games to spare.

The following season, Judge enjoyed a successful season in the Championship, a season where he made forty one appearances for the club but ended in disappointing fashion with a play-off defeat to Middlesbrough.

The 2015/2016 season was a testing one for the midfielder. At a time when he was enjoying some of the best football of his career and shortly after receiving a deserved nomination for the Football League Player of the Year award at the 2016 London Football Awards, Judge’s season was brought to an abrupt and premature end.

A horrific challenge from Ipswich Town player Luke Hyam, resulted in a leg break in multiple places for Judge and it was the beginning of an extremely testing two and a half years both mentally and physically for the Dubliner.

It’s important to note that season was a personal best for the midfielder, contributing fourteen Championship goals and although his season was brought to a premature end, he impressively ended the season with the most number of assists at the club for the second successive season.

Over eighteen months later and following a long and challenging road to recovery, Alan Judge returned to training in November 2017 and made a welcome comeback as a substitute in an FA Cup game in January 2018 against his former club Notts County. Twenty one months after the match in which he broke his leg.

Judge spoke today about how tough his recovery had been both mentally and physically and of his delight at just being back simply playing football and getting minutes on the pitch.

“Yes, without doubt it has been a big challenge mentally. You know, what you go through – I know Seamus is going through the same thing. I had two years of it.

“The one thing I always said is that I got plenty of time with my family – I think they're sick of seeing me now at the minute.

“I've got through it – I take tackles now again, I take everything. You always think, 'Am I going to get back to it?', and it took me probably about six or seven games at Ipswich to realise, 'I'm going to get back to this'.

“You do have mental challenges, but I'm loving every minute at the moment.

“Every player that's come into the squad has looked at it thinking, 'I've a chance of playing'. I had a few chances of playing for Mick and now hopefully I'll get the chance to do that here.

“I do prefer playing as a number 10, but if I do get chosen out wide or anything like that, I don't mind. I’m looking for minutes and to just play as much as I can. If the manager asks me to do something in any position, I'll do it the best I can. If a chance comes my way hopefully I’ll take it”

With injuries ruling out Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda last week, the stage could be set for the midfielder to show what he can do again over the next seven days and hearing him speak so positively about where he is at and the form that he feels he himself is very close to can only act as a major positive for Mick as he looks ahead to Saturday.