Lewis Page is doing a fine job of proving his Charlton Athletic injury woes are behind him – and admits he would be happy to sign a new contract.
The 22-year-old left-sided defender saw nearly all of his first 18 months at the club written off by a succession of injuries.
But Page came back into the fold when Lee Bowyer took caretaker charge – announcing his return with a spanking finish in a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle in March.
Since then he has gone from strength to strength and played every minute in League One this season.
“I’ve missed a lot of football so to play so much means a lot,” said Page. “It is nice to have that consistency and be feeling fit again. I’d struggled to get those 90 minutes in the tank.
“I’m not saying I am doing too much different in terms of the build up to games but I probably used to over-train a bit and have learned to rein that in a little.
“I do the things I need to get ready for the game instead of overcooking myself, coming into it slightly fatigued on a match day and then pulling a muscle or doing something silly.
“Experienced players like Pearcey [Jason Pearce] would say to call it a day and rest up. A few people gave me advice but I saw it myself, it was pretty obvious.
I’d stay out there longer than other people and they weren’t injured as much.
“It was happening before I came to Charlton. I would do plyometrics and power stuff that you should be doing before training, rather than after.
“I’d stay out and do an extra 30 crosses when it should be a maximum of 10, putting stress on my hamstring and hip flexor. It is finding that balance.”
Page has benefitted from Charlton missing out on a loan return for Jay Dasilva. The Chelsea wing-back’s decision to join Bristol City meaning he is now longer a competitor for the jersey.
“I know there is a long way to go,” said Page. “I’m not getting ahead of myself. It is only seven games and I want to get another 30 at least.
“It’s up to me to manage myself correctly off the pitch and everything else takes care of itself.
“I got in the League One Team of the Week [after Saturday’s 3-2 win over Wycombe]. I had a decent enough game but it wasn’t my best. I put a cross in that got a deflection [off Sido Jombati] and went in. I got the assist, I’m not going to complain.
“I heard them announce me as the goalscorer [on the PA] and thought ‘surely not?’ I can’t claim that. If he had left it then it might have ended up going out near the corner flag if Lyle [Taylor] can’t reach to tap it in.”
Page has played at full-back and in a midfield five. He has performed the wing-back role previously at Coventry and West Ham.
“I don’t know what I prefer – I enjoy both,” he said. “At left wing-back you can attack the back post when someone crosses from the other side. But then you have got to run 60 yards back to defend a one-v-one.
As a left-back you are already there. You have to save your energy for the overlapping runs. “You have to be a left-winger and left-back, to give an outlet and do your defensive duties. It is knowing when to go and when not to go.”
Page knows his running statistics.
“In one game I covered 11.2 kilometres. In other games it has been 10.6km and then 10.9km. I wouldn’t say I get the best every week. Usually it is Darren Pratley with the highest. Josh Cullen was up there too at Southend.
“But you have games where you a run a ridiculous amount and it probably wasn’t your best game.
“If you are 2-0 or 3-0 up in the last 20 minutes then you are not attacking so much, more sitting in shape and playing off that.” Page is out of contract this summer.
“I’d love to stay at Charlton. I love the fans and the boys have been brilliant. But in football things change by the week. All I can control is how I play.
“I’ve got it in the back of my mind it is my last year and that is never nice knowing that.
“I just want to crack on, do well and see how it is in January.”
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