FRAIZER Campbell has spoken of his relief at playing competitive football again, five months after suffering cruciate ligament damage which has sidelined him for all but four of Sunderland’s games this season.
The striker played just under half-an-hour of yesterday’s Reserves game against West Ham’s second string at the Academy of Light and afterwards admitted: “It’s been a really long time and I’m just happy to have got on the pitch and got some minutes under my belt.
“Things like coming in for a pre-match meal were strange – I haven’t done that for six months!
“I’m not used to preparing for games.
“But I felt good.
“I got a few touches of the ball early on and it was great to be out there in a match situation.”
Campbell – currently earmarked to return to first-team availability in April with the trip to Manchester City – could now potentially be in the squad to face Liverpool in 11 days.
But the 23-year-old has not put any date on his own return.
“There’s no rush to come back,” he said.
“It’s not about getting back for a particular game – I’ll take my time and get back into the first team when I’m fit and ready to produce my best stuff.
“I want to play as much football as I can while being sensible and building my fitness up.”
Campbell was just pleased to be back playing again after such a lengthy and frustrating lay-off – a return which he might have capped with a goal in what turned out to be a 1-1 draw.
“I had a good chance, but I waited too long,” he said. “I should have taken the chance earlier but these things happen.
“Now I want to make sure I’m ready for the first team, so games like this are useful to get some sharpness back.”