NICKLAS Bendtner says he is prepared to be the man in the mask for as long as has to – after hearing the potential consequences of trying to play football without it!
The face protector – designed by the same London specialist who helped Simon Mignolet with his facial injury – allows the Danish striker to get through games while his broken cheekbone and eye socket heals.
However, he told the Echo it is awkward to wear during games, restricts his field of vision and he would prefer not to wear it.
He said: “I’m told I have to wear it for a couple of weeks or more and to be honest, I was hoping to avoid wearing it as soon as possible before they warned me that under no circumstances must I do so until they tell me I can.
“I don’t know all the technical stuff, but basically what they told me was that you have a whole in your skull behind your eye and if I get a knock in the face without the mask on, the eye could fall backwards into that hole.
“They also told me that if I took a knock on the eye and it dropped even as much as a millimetre or two, I would have double-vision and not be able to play.
“After they told me that? I said ‘Where’s the mask!’”
The fallout, for want of a better of a word, from the initial injury in the game against Swansea in January has been the side-lining of Bendtner for weeks, even though the high challenge from Spaniard Rangel Angel did not appear malicious.
“I don’t think it was,” said Bendtner. “He was stretching for the ball, but the toe of his boot hit me directly on the eye.
“It was a horrible experience. I was blind in the eye for hours. I feared losing my sight and I had to have injections.
“But hopefully that’s all in the past now. It’s great to be back playing again thanks to the mask and getting back to good form again.
“The mask itself doesn’t really feel comfortable and it affects your peripheral vision. It means you cannot really see all around you and heading the ball isn’t great either.
“But having heard the alternative risks of not wearing the mask, I have only one option.
“With a bit of luck it will only be a few more weeks.
“It was a great success for Simon and he’s out of his now, so fingers-crossed I won’t be too far behind.”
Now Bendtner wants to keep up the good work that has seen him score in his last two games and help Sunderland take four points from their last six to maintain their place in the top half of the table.
“It is very important that we finish the season strongly,” he said.
“I want to finish the season strongly and I want Sunderland to finish the season strongly after all the good work that’s been done over the last few months.”