A lonely Ajax player stepped onto the training grounds on Tuesday. It was John O'Brien, the injured defender who came to do running excercises. Although he was the only one around, the American enjoyed the fact that he could work out on the pitch again.
John O'Brien looks at his training program, puts out some markings and starts his excercises. ,,It's going to take a while'', he calls out when he spots the reporter. To add in his next lap: ,,We'll talk at 'halftime'.''
O'Brien has spent the past time doing rehab for an Achilles tendon injury. After missing nearly five months of last season with an inflammation to the tendon of one foot, after the summer it all started again with his other Achilles tendon. The American works out at youth complex de Toekomst and in the gym. ,,That's why I am so happy that I can train on our own pitch'', O'Brien says. ,,You get the idea that you make progress.''
Although progression is made, the defender will not predict when he can come back in the group. ,,No, but at least I can run again now. But I cannot do everything yet. Turning and accelerating are sensitive. I would like to return to the team training sooner rather than later, but last year taught me that it's hard to say when that moment comes.''
Is a second Achilles injury not a heavy mental burden as well? ,,When you ask me that, you bring negative thoughts into my head'', O'Brien corrects his interviewer. ,,I try to think as positively as possible. Last year I started the season healthy and missed the biggest part with an injury. Now we're doing it the other way around: I start injured and I will play all of the rest of the season'', smiles the friendly Californian.
O'Brien has not had a difficult time watching his teammates play the past weeks. ,,It was tense a few times, but I am not worried about our form. When the big matches start, I think we will play better football. So you see, I am also positive on that subject.''