PATIENCE may not be Paul Anderson’s strongest quality, but he has had to show plenty of it in an injury-hit start to the season.
The Nottingham Forest winger played just a game-and-a-half of Steve McClaren’s ill-fated reign at the City Ground, but last week he finally recovered to start his first game since August.
A groin injury, picked up in pre-season against PSV Eindhoven, came back midway through Forest’s Carling Cup derby with Notts County, sidelining him for a fortnight.
And having just come through rehab, Anderson’s luck didn’t improve on his return to training. A freak accident minutes before his first session resulted in a badly torn right hamstring and two more months on the sick list.
He said: “It could’ve happened to anyone. I tried to backheel the ball and then felt like I’d been shot in the back of my leg. I tried to walk it off and stretch my hamstring, but I couldn’t even bend my knee.
“For the first month I couldn’t do anything with my hamstring. After a week or two I could half-jog but couldn’t do anything else so I was just on the treadmill going out of my mind with boredom.
“But having three months out gives you time to work on everything else. When you are playing Saturday and Tuesday you can’t do upper body work or lower body sessions because your legs are recovering from matches.
“Now I feel fitter than ever so there are always positives, but you can’t beat match fitness and actually playing games.”
His spell on the sidelines coincided with a miserable run of form for Forest and a subsequent regime change as Steve Cotterill replaced the outgoing former England boss McClaren.
There was a growing consensus among supporters and within the club that the bad run and Anderson’s absence were more than just coincidence.
Their argument seemed to strengthen when the 23-year-old returned for the final 15 minutes of a midweek league match against Ipswich Town. A dream return transformed a 2-1 reverse into a 3-2 win.
Anderson added: “I felt I did quite well. The gaffer made a few changes late on and turned it around. I came off the bench against Cardiff and again felt really fit. But the first start against Leeds was an unfortunate evening.”
Forest slumped to a demoralising 4-0 home defeat to an inspired Leeds United, but the Melton man put it down to just one of those games and firmly believes Cotterill can manoeuvre the Reds away from trouble.
He said: “Personally I didn’t think it was that bad a performance. Everything that could’ve gone wrong just went wrong.
“We made four individual mistakes and Leeds punished every one which doesn’t normally happen in football. On the night we weren’t good enough, but there’s always another game around the corner to put things right.
“The fans are disappointed because they have expected us to move forward this season, but unfortunately with the amount of changes we have had at the club it is going to take time.
“I get on with him (Cotterill) very well and I think he is the right man for the job. If he gets the full support from the board and the fans, I think he can change it round.”