Ashley Maynard-Brewer has endured more than his fair share of injury setbacks in 2022. That’s why he admits that making his league debut for Charlton Athletic last weekend was that extra bit special.
The 23-year-old Australian had been due to spend the season on loan at Gillingham but suffered a major dislocation to his left shoulder in July which was expected to sideline him until December.
Maynard-Brewer managed to get back ahead of schedule and that proved timely with the Addicks’ two senior goalkeepers unavailable.
Joe Wollacott is sidelined following surgery for a broken finger sustained in the warm-up at Burton Albion which is set to keep him out until at least the end of December. Without that happening, Charlton’s first-choice stopper would have been part of Ghana’s squad at the World Cup.
Deputy Craig MacGillivray was ruled out of last Saturday’s trip to Port Vale after suffering delayed concussion in the same League One match in Staffordshire.
Maynard-Brewer had been similarly luckless. He broke his nose while on loan at Ross County – in a 3-3 draw against Rangers at the end of January – then injured the same shoulder as soon as he resumed training with the Scottish Premiership side.
With the 23-year-old’s future to be decided, Charlton have an option to extend his deal by a further 12 months beyond its current end date of June 2023, he describes the abrupt end to his Gills loan – suffering the damage in a friendly against Dover Athletic – as “a real kick in the teeth”.
“It was a major disappointment because it was going to be a good loan and a good situation,” said Maynard-Brewer. “I could’ve got a lot of games in there and then come back to Charlton.
“With the dislocation at Ross County it popped out and then popped back in, it was only for a split second. It was a minor tear. There were about two months of the season left and the coaching staff thought it best to take the rehab quite slowly and get me back before the start of the next season, to be in at Charlton.
“But with the changes at Charlton [Ben Garner replacing Johnnie Jackson as manager], and knowing I hadn’t played a game in a few months, the gaffer felt it was right for me to go on loan to Gillingham and get a few games in.
“Unfortunately the shoulder went again, and went much worse. There was more damage. I had to get surgery which was quite full-on. From then it was three months of rehab.
“It’s the shoulder that is my bowling arm, my throwing one.
“I had two options for surgery. There was a basic one, which was to knit the ligament back together, or what they call a bone block – they cut the bone and pin it to the upside of the shoulder where the ligament has been damaged, so that it is near impossible to re-dislocate again.
“I went for the second one. There was the risk of losing a bit of a range of motion but I thought that option, compared to ligament repair, was best going forward.
“Luckily the surgery went well and the shoulder is fine now. I have lost a little bit of range of movement but I have that certainty at the back of my mind that it won’t go again. If I went into games worried about my shoulder it would be a distraction and detrimental.”
Maynard-Brewer signed for Charlton in 2015 while in Joondalup’s academy. He was spotted by former Addicks stopper Andy Petterson, who played for the Perth club and then moved into their coaching team.
Maynard-Brewer made his debut for the South Londoners in an EFL Trophy tie against Swansea City in November 2018. He is in line to start in tomorrow’s FA Cup second round tie against Stockport County in SE7 if MacGillivray is not available.
“I remember two years ago I played against Plymouth in the same competition and it was during Covid – there weren’t any fans in,” said Maynard-Brewer.
“It didn’t really feel like a Valley debut. I’ve been involved in so many games on the bench there and always wanted to play in front of the Valley crowd. To play there this weekend would be really exciting.”
Maynard-Brewer, who was part of Australia’s squad at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, could do little about Daniel Butterworth’s 57th-minute finish which extended Charlton’s winless league run to four matches.
The Vale attacker breezed far too easily past George Dobson, Ryan Inniss and Sam Lavelle before cutting a low finish into the bottom left corner of the net.
“I spoke to the goalkeeping coach, Glyn Shimell, after Jojo and Macca got injured and he said: ‘Prepare as if you’re going to play next week’. I had a good week of training to get my head around it.
“It felt really different to my league debut at Ross County. I tried not to make too much of a thing of it, but there were a lot of people that I’ve met in my seven or eight years at Charlton who were sending me messages and congratulating me before the game – like Lee Smelt and Andy Marshall – and everyday members of staff who worked there, mates from back home and players from my youth teams.
“There are a lot of people who have helped me along the way to get to that position. It was a really special moment and made me very proud.
“It was a bit of a frustrating game to play in. It was a tricky pitch, heavy and a bit bobbly. They came out to high press us. We were poor, by our standards, on the day.
“Because it was my first competitive match since February I just tried to stay in control and focus on what I had to do. It’s your debut and you want to make an impression.”
Kicking on in football is about seizing the moment. This could be Maynard-Brewer’s best opportunity to underline he can be a big part of Charlton’s future plans.
“The injuries to Jojo and Macca have been unfortunate but it has given me a chance to try and show what I’m about – impress the manager and the people who have helped me out at Charlton in these past few years,” he said.
PICTURES: KYLE ANDREWS
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