Charlton AthleticSport

‘I’m not afraid of hard work’ – Charlton’s Jake Forster-Caskey determined to come roaring back from knee surgery

Jake Forster-Caskey is set to do more academy coaching at Charlton Athletic this year alongside pushing ahead with his recovery from knee surgery.

The Addicks announced earlier this week that the 27-year-old had signed a new contract until the summer of 2022 – with the option of a further 12 months.

Charlton have stuck by Forster-Caskey, who was injured in the line of duty. He suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in the penultimate fixture of the League One campaign following a challenge from a Lincoln City player.

It was a cruel blow for the talented midfielder, who did the same injury in his other knee in 2018. He deservedly won the club’s Player of the Year award for the 2020-21 season.

“The first time I did it was seriously painful,” Forster-Caskey told the South London Press. “I didn’t know straight away it was my ACL this time. I tried to get up and my knee felt a bit wobbly. You’re hoping it is just something small.

“I had a scan a couple of days later and got the news that any player never wants to hear – that’s it’s a serious injury and it is going to keep you sidelined for quite a long period of time.

“But, like I’ve said before, I’m lucky to have good people around me. Quite soon afterwards I got over it. You have to get your head down and get on with it – like a lot of things in life.

“I’ve been told if you have done one cruciate you are more likely to do the other one. In some ways I’m glad to have done it now so that I can crack on and get back.”

Forster-Caskey has had no summer break as he rehabs, although it will be another month before he can ramp up his training.

The fact he has been through the process before is a help.

“It is slightly less daunting than last time,” he admitted. “The first time you are almost questioning are you going to play again? But I got back playing and probably had my best season, the most influential season, of my career.

“I know I can get back but it does take time. I need to be patient and I hope the fans will be slightly patient – I can’t click my fingers and come back straight away.

“It’s unfortunate, what I’ve done, but I’m not afraid of hard work.”

Charlton’s players wore white T-shirts with ‘JFC 8’ – his squad number – before the final match against Hull City. Forster-Caskey was in the stands.

“When your team-mates do something like that it is quite a special moment,” he said. “It was also a special moment for my family. My mum was more proud of that than me winning Player of the Year – because it shows what kind of person I am.

“It was a really nice touch from the boys. I just wish I had been out there with them.”

Forster-Caskey has made 111 appearances for Charlton, scoring 13 times. He is only eight matches shy of the milestone of 250.

He puts his previous time on the sidelines as a factor why he excelled so much in the last campaign.

“When you have a bad injury you don’t want to waste any time,” he said. “I was going into every game desperate to do well for myself.

“If you speak to most players who have had serious injuries and been out for long periods, they want to make the most of every single game they play. That will be me again. I’m already excited to be back – I can’t wait to play football. I just miss it so much when it’s gone.

“Your football career is short and you’ll see how hungry I am.”

Forster-Caskey has passed his UEFA B coaching license and has been accepted to take the A version.

“I’m going to be speaking to the club about what age group they can put me with,” he said.

“Last year I did quite a lot of work with the U14s. Maybe I’ll go with the U15s or U16s this season and do as much as I can, as long as it doesn’t affect my rehab.

“People probably think the rehab days are not as much, but they are actually more – I’ll probably be the first one in and the last one out of the training ground.

“It will probably work perfectly with coaching the younger age groups, because when I’m finishing they will be starting training.

“It is definitely something I want to do after football, either coaching or management. With this little spell out it is a good time to put my mind into that as well.”

And that new deal adds an element of security.

“It’s a club that is in my heart and a club that supported me through my first injury,” said Forster-Caskey. “The fans have been unbelievable – I’ve got a connection that I never had at another football club.

“I’m looking to repay them and the club when I get playing again.”

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