'I've been like a caged animal' - Leeds United's Adam Forshaw desperate for more after dream Elland Road return
'Caged animal' Adam Forshaw has set his heart on regular football after making his long-awaited Leeds United comeback.
The central midfielder made his first competitive appearance in almost 23 months in the Whites' 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday night.
A sold out Elland Road was the setting as he ended a hellish absence from first team action, caused by a hip problem that required surgery and ensuing complications.
He did manage to get fit enough to play for the Under 23s late last season but picked up a niggle the Leeds medical team half expected, given the length of time he spent rehabbing from a serious injury.
But after a summer break and a pre-season that was carefully managed, even to the point of holding him back when he was raring to do more, Forshaw finally took a huge step toward his ultimate goal with an hour of action against Crewe.
“It was amazing," he told the BBC.
"I’m back living the dream and enjoying myself. Every day I’m smiling, I’m training, I'm starting to play games now and build fitness. It was tough, I'm not going to lie. It took away from me my biggest passion in the world. To be back, I’m just pleased, relieved.
“I had a little bit of butterflies, but I was fine to be honest and excited all day.
"Then when we came out I had the jitters a little bit but couldn’t wait to get going and get a touch on the ball, I loved it.
“I felt great and I feel really good."
Now free of the pain that plagued him during a set-back strewn period in which he was forced to watch from the sidelines as Leeds won promotion and played an entire Premier League season, Forshaw is desperate to keep moving forward.
The club are taking it steady, however, which he appreciates.
“First and foremost I’ve been pain free now for the whole of pre-season and I am gradually building my fitness," he said.
“The manager, the staff and the physios have been brilliant with me, they’ve managed my load. I've been like a caged animal at times, desperate to do more. But they've been making the decisions on how many minutes I've been playing, so I have to thank them for that."
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa, who has praised Forshaw's professionalism and work ethic during his rehabilitation, insists Forshaw's return to the player he was, a player Leeds could not buy in the transfer market, will not be a quick process.
Forshaw understands that, but is holding firm to his hope for much more than a Carabao Cup appearance.
“I am not just here to make the numbers up, I want to start playing regularly again," he said.
“I understand it is going to be a long process and it has been a long process to get back here, but yeah, I have aspirations to play again.”