BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace defender Nathan Ferguson has vowed to recover from his knee injury in the short-term.
The 20-year-old has not played since January when he was still a West Bromwich Albion player.
The setback scuppered a move to Selhurst Park in the winter transfer window, but it was eventually completed in the summer when Ferguson’s contract with the Baggies expired. The fee is still to be decided by a tribunal.
Ferguson said: “Short term, I want to get myself out of this injury and back to where I was, or even better. Then, hopefully, I can then implement myself into the team and help to develop other players while I’m also working hard myself.
“This is my first setback, I’ll come back, and this will make me stronger through the rest of my career.”
Ferguson was speaking to children at Bandon Hill Meadow Field Primary School during a Palace for Life Foundation Team Mates session.
The full-back spoke about the sacrifices he had to make to pursue a career in professional football.
The Team Mates programme encourages children to speak openly about how they are feeling. It uses positive psychology to help them become more resilient and improve their social skills.
“I started playing football when I was about eight, but the decision to play football as a career probably didn’t come until I was 13 or 14,” Ferguson explained to the students. “When you make that decision to become a footballer, there are things that you need to change, such as your diet, your dedication or your friends.
“Luck comes through preparation, getting an opportunity is often luck, but it’s the hard work that gets you there.”
After the session, Ferguson said: “Communication is so important, it’s good to teach it from a young age so that they learn that it’s okay to talk about your feelings.
“Even if I can inspire just one kid, that’s good enough for me, hopefully I can encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and go on to do what they want to do when they’re older.”
Ferguson was closing in on a return to action earlier this season but suffered a setback in his recovery. Manager Roy Hodgson said last week: “He seems to be making progress, there’s no doubt about that. He’s in training every day and he’s working with one of the rehabilitation guys.
“They are pleased with his progress, but it all boils down to whether we can push it on to involving situations where he’s going to have to twist and turn more and accept there are challenges around to deal with.
“The running he is doing at the moment is very controlled, so we’re making certain we don’t put pressure on the outside of the knee where – if it went wrong – it could possibly blow up and set him back in some ways.
“The latest prognosis from Nathan himself, who I talk to regularly, is he’s rather hoping that during this international break he’ll be pushing on faster and harder. Maybe after the international break he’ll be released a bit more into that competitive situation where the knee will get its full test.
“Unfortunately this happened before. He was making progress, we tried to push it on in a controlled, competitive manner but he got some pain in it, so he had to back off.”
Feature image: Palace For Life
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