I'll come back fitter and stronger: Glenavon hopeful Robbie Norton targets top return from crushing ACL injury
Glenavon midfielder Robbie Norton is aiming to prove a crushing setback can be turned into a significant opportunity.
The 21-year-old tore his anterior curciate ligament during pre-season and, as a result, could miss the entire campaign.
It's a huge blow to the hometown boy who had been hoping this season would instead herald his big breakthrough into Glenavon's senior side.
He got his first taste of regular Premiership action during a loan spell at Warrenpoint last term and a positive pre-season had promised much for the coming campaign.
Even after the injury, Norton is still determined to put the 19/20 season to good use, and hopes the spell on the sidelines can even benefit his career.
"It feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth," he admitted. "At Warrenpoint, I felt like I had a really good spell.
"I was getting a bit of consistency into my game and that followed into pre-season. I felt like I was playing well and then this injury came. I felt like it was going to be a big season of opportunity, be that in centre-midfield or at right-back.
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"I'm 21 so I've got plenty of years left to play. Hopefully this period out will make me a better player and a better character for it. I'll just have to persevere through it.
"Seeing the team when they're winning big games and I'm stuck on the sidelines is going to be tough but the hard work will make it all the sweeter when I score that next Irish League goal or make that next start."
With surgery scheduled for Wednesday (August 14) and his recovery in the hands of the club's esteemed physio Lynne Carpenter, Norton is still holding out hope that he could make a return to action for a few games at the end of the campaign.
"I've the surgery coming up and then, speaking to Lynne, the first two weeks I can't walk but I'll have to be doing different excercises with my knee," he explained.
"Then it'll be into the gym, start walking, swimming and after 12 weeks, you start running. It'll be jogging, straight-line running and then build it up from there.
"Lynne says I'm her 12th or 13th person that has done their ACL. She says it's becoming more common now. The technology is so advanced. Maybe years ago it would be a career ending injury but Kris Lindsay did both knees and he came back, Kyle Neill did it when he was 36 and came back to play for Portadown.
"I'm only 21 so I think I can come back fit and strong. Eoin Wearen has done both of his and he says it doesn't give him any bother now. Looking at all those players gives me hope.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure that I come back even stronger and fitter than I was when I got injured.
"I definitely don't want to come back too soon and get injured again. I need to make sure I do my rehab with the right attitude."
For now, however, Norton must return to being a fan on match-days, when he says he still feels very much part of the Glenavon family.
"I've really noticed the fans drawing alongside me and wishing me all the best. They're really looking out for me," he says.
Belfast Telegraph Digital