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Jack Hunt: I felt like crying after my unlucky break at Palace
Sunday, 20 October 2013
JACK Hunt has spoken for the first time about the ankle break that was a hammer blow to the start of his Crystal Palace career.
The 22-year-old right-back, signed from Huddersfield in the final days of the summer transfer window, admits he felt like crying after he suffered the fracture in only his third training session and was ruled out for four months.
Hunt's right foot has been in a protective boot for the past month but he is set to cast aside his crutches at the start of next week. In another fortnight he will start his rehab.
"It'll be a long time before I'm back in full training because I've lost a lot of muscle in the calf and quad where I've not been able to do anything," he explained. "So it is about rebuilding that, regaining my fitness and strengthening my ankle.
"It was such a clean break that it was important for the first three to four weeks to make sure I didn't move the bone. I didn't have to have an operation or a plate put in the leg. It was literally left to heal. I was pretty lucky with that really.
"I went back to Leeds and then saw the surgeon every seven to 10 days. I've not been doing too much if I'm being perfectly honest.
"I'm watching Dexter and I've been playing a bit of FIFA on the Playstation. There are a few lads at Palace that play it but with me being back up north I didn't get the chance to bond too much before I broke my ankle."
Hunt can clearly remember the moment when the injury happened during a crossing and finishing session.
"Someone crossed the ball and I was just trying to attack it," he recalled. "I lunged for the ball at waist-height, got a touch and then my right leg landed in the ground and I ended up squatting on it. There was a really loud snap - a lot of people heard that. When there's a sound like that, you know something is wrong. It was very painful.
"Because I squatted and my bum was touching my ankle I thought I'd done my knee as well, because that hurt. Fortunately I hadn't."
But that was about the only good news for Hunt as his time at Palace got off to a jinxed start.
He said: "It was pretty devastating. I was a long way from home, only 22 and to do it so early in my time at the club was a nightmare.
"I felt like crying. I knew I'd done something serious and I'd be out for quite a while.
"I went to the Cromwell Hospital in Chelsea and the specialist came in to see me on the Sunday. I had to stay overnight and they released me on the Monday. I went straight back up to Leeds. The club have been very supportive. The manager said just to be as positive as I can and that no-one expects things like this to happen. He told me to make sure I'm right when I come back.
"It should repair itself better than ever. I'm quite lucky I didn't get any ligament damage because that would have kept me out longer. A bone break sounds bad but in football terms you can do a lot worse."
Hunt expects to be available for the Eagles by January and is looking to have an influence as the season goes into a critical phase.
"I'd do unbelievably well to be back in three months - I think it's supposed to be 14 weeks," he said. "It just depends how quickly I react and get my muscle back. I do need to play some games. I can't just get chucked in the Premier League."
Hunt had been with Huddersfield since the age of nine but could not turn down the opportunity of top-flight football with Palace.
"It was quite strange - I was going to go to another Premier League team but that didn't happen for whatever reason," he said. "I can't say who that was.
"Then I got a phonecall from my agent on the Thursday night before the window closed saying he thought Palace were trying to agree a fee with Huddersfield. By the time I got into training on Friday morning that had been agreed. I came down and agreed personal terms and did half my medical then and the other half on Saturday.
"I had a good chat with the manager before the Sunderland game and then stayed to watch it. I met the lads in the changing room.
"It was tough to leave Huddersfield but I was ready for a new challenge - when the Premier League comes knocking you can't turn it down."
Hunt can play further forward on the right but wants to nail down the right-back slot, currently filled by Joel Ward.
He said: "My strength is going forward but I'm not a right-midfielder, despite talk of that. I prefer attacking from deeper. I'm definitely a right-back."
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