Ryan Hawkins has vowed to come back stronger after suffering a horror leg injury that is likely to keep him out for the rest of the season.
The Linnets striker, 22, picked up an ugly seven-inch gash to his left shin following a tackle during King’s Lynn Town’s 1-1 draw with Cirencester Town on Saturday.
Despite the serious nature of the injury, Hawkins, who has been a revelation for the Linnets in recent weeks, is adamant he’ll bounce back.
Speaking from his bedside at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where he underwent surgery on Sunday, Hawkins said: “I’ve been really enjoying my football and playing with a smile on my face.
“This isn’t a setback, it’s just one of those things. I will work hard in my rehab and come back a better, stronger and improved player.
“Letting the injury heal will be a big impact and I don’t want to rush back and cause any more harm. I want to be able to perform at the best of my ability to help King’s Lynn win matches again.”
Fellow players thought the youngster had broken his leg and, reflecting on the incident which saw an air ambulance called to the Corinium Stadium, Hawkins said: “I remember taking on a few players and a heavy tackle which caught me on the shin.
“I went down, but didn’t really feel pain, just sore and then looked at the injury. It wasn’t the most pleasant of sights with blood pouring out everywhere.
“I think you always fear the worst but after being reassured by the excellent work of physio Phil (Ward) I was calmed down and explained that it wasn’t as serious as maybe it could have been.
“It’s the worst injury I’ve suffered because of the gash in my leg, the extent of the injury and the amount of blood, but luckily I wasn’t in much pain.
“All of the players and physios were brilliant in helping me, especially the Cirencester player that reassured me and calmed me down.”
Hawkins, who signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the Linnets in November, had surgery to remove the soft tissue damage and repair his pes anserinus tendon before having the wound stitched back up.
The Mattishall-based player, who is studying Sports Coaching at the University of East Anglia, says he has been overwhelmed at the amount of support he has received since the incident.
“The support has been amazing,” admitted Hawkins.
“I’ve had many managers, players and physios from a number of leagues wishing me all the best with my op and recovery through social media and text messages.
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the Granger family, from Lynn, who stayed with me and brought me home from Cheltenham Hospital, as without them I would have been stuck.
“Also I’d like to thank all those connected with Cirencester and King’s Lynn Football Club’s and all my friends and family that have visited me and wished me well.
“Without this support it would have been very difficult for myself.”
Tomorrow night, the Linnets host Wroxham at The Walks in the quarter-finals of the Norfolk Senior Cup.
As well as being without Hawkins, defender Ryan Fryatt is also a doubt for the last-eight tie after coming off with an ankle injury against the Centurions.