Leeds Knights: Forward Cole Shudra sees an end in sight on road to recovery

HAVING been bitten by the injury bug for the best part of five weeks or so now, seeing Cole Shudra back out on the ice in practice at Elland Road last week is a sight that will have been warmly welcomed by his Leeds Knights’ team-mates.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:46 am
CLOSING IN: Cole Shudra hopes to be back in contention for Leeds Knights - and parent club Sheffield Steelers - within a couple of weeks. Picture courtesy of Kat Medcroft

Head coach Dave Whistle will no doubt have been delighted to see his 23-year-old two-way forward out on the ice again, too, albeit on light duties as he continues his recovery from an upper-body injury sustained in the 5-3 road win at Peterborough Phantoms on October 17.

Shudra’s enforced absence has coincided with a run of appalling injury luck, the kind Whistle admits he has never experienced in all his time as a player or coach.

There is still a short way to go for Shudra on his frustrating road to recovery, with it likely to be another couple of weeks before he is back in contention to play competitively.

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ALL ACTION: Cole Shudra, in action for Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup against Nottingham Panthers in September. Picture: Dean Woolley/Steelers Media

He is one of six Knights players still watching from the sidelines, with Whistle and owner Steve Nell having to shore up their roster through a combination of loans and two-way deals.

But Shudra – signed on a two-way deal with Sheffield Steelers – at least can see the end in sight, tempting though it will no doubt have been to cut corners in his recovery in order to return to the ice sooner.

“It’s feeling good and I think I’m on track to be back soon,” said Shudra, whose 17-year-old brother Tate was the latest surprise addition to the Knights line-up when called in to play twice last weekend.

“The rehab is going pretty well and hopefully it will only be a couple more weeks until I get back into contact in training and then, hopefully, start playing again.

Cole Shudra, third from right, with Leeds Knights' team-mates, from left, Jordan Griffin, Bobby Streetly and Ben Solder Picture courtesy of Kat Medcroft

“It has been hard, because both teams have been short on bodies and it is hard to watch when you’ve got a really short bench.

“But I’ve got to take the advice of the specialists and doctors – I’ve got a long career all being well – so I’ve got to look after myself.

“And if you push too hard, come back too early, you always risk making things even worse.”

No injury is ever well-timed but Shudra’s setback brought an abrupt halt to a season which had begun so brightly.

The Knights won the first six Autumn Cup fixtures and began their regular season NIHL National league campaign in equally impressive style, winning the first three games.

Shudra, who has benefitted in his recovery from the Steelers’ support staff, was among a handful of Knights players who were ripping it up in terms of scoring, ending the Autumn Cup group phase with 18 points, seven of them goals.

Sadly, his one league appearance for the Knights in Peterborough brought nothing but pain, meaning he is desperate to pick up where he left off once he does return.

“You want to be out there playing top minutes, so that just adds to the frustration, especially with me being in some good form when it happened, to have it cut short so abruptly,” added Shudra.

“I kind of have to go back to square one again but, hopefully, I can pick up where I left off.

“I’ve loved every moment of playing here in Leeds.

“The crowds are great, the boys are really good to play alongside and I’ve learned a lot from Dave Whistle.”