Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Winger Hungrier for Success after Fracture Agony

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Winger Hungrier for Success after Fracture Agony

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

KIERAN Richardson last night insisted that his long fight for fitness has increased his hunger to help bring success to Sunderland as he lifted the lid on the angst endured during his battle to recover from an agonising spinal fracture.

The England international scored on his first Premier League start in four months at the weekend and, having inspired the Black Cats to an important win against Bolton, Richardson's sights are fixed on a brighter future.

It is a future he hopes is free from further injuries - although a player selected despite an acute lack of match practice has admitted that the healing process might not yet be complete.

The hairline fracture found in Richardson's spinal column is a complaint more common in cricketers and field athletes. It is one that the medical conducted prior to his pounds 5.5m acquisition from Manchester United failed to detect.

"I felt it towards the end of the season at United," admitted a player named in Sunderland's starting XI for just the fourth time during Saturday's 3-1 success against the Trotters, the three points enabling the club to escape the top-flight relegation zone.

"I had this niggle in my back and I thought that perhaps it was my bed. But I had fractured my spine. It wasn't picked up at United or throughout the European (Under-21) Championships (last summer).

I was in agony but I didn't know what it was.

"I had a medical (at Sunderland) and that didn't pick it up either. But after the Liverpool match (on August 25) I couldn't sleep properly so I had another scan. That showed a fracture in the spine. I was told I would be out for three months minimum.

I was gutted, devastated. It was serious.

I'm just glad to be back." Richardson refused an operation, and instead opted for total rest. The rehabilitation process has been long and frustrating and has allowed much time for thought.

"It has made me appreciate things a lot more," he said. "I've missed football so much. I think it means more to me than it did before and it has made me hungrier.

You can take things for granted sometimes, but I've realised that I love it. …

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