Jakubiak | “I've Done Well To Cope”
It wasn't quite the 21st birthday present Alex Jakubiak had hoped for.
The home-grown striker had just blown the candles out on the milestone occasion in August when he lined up for the Hornets' Under-23 side against Birmingham at Vicarage Road. Hayden Mullins' side were drawing with the Blues under the lights when Jakubiak picked up possession in a forward area.
“I was on the left, beat my man and then when I cut the ball back, my right foot just got jarred in the ground and my body weight went over it,” he recalled. “At the time I thought it was worse than it was and that I was going to be out for longer. I knew straight away away it wasn't a break but it was still one of the worst pains I've felt.”
The fact the swelling subsided after a couple of days confirmed it wasn't a break but the pain and lack of mobility did hint at some significant ligament damage.
“It was the ligament on the outside of my right ankle that I damaged,” said Jakubiak. “It was a minor injury but it's kept me out for nearly three months. Initially we thought it would be six weeks.”
Jakubiak has been out so long – two and a half months, to be precise — that, in that time, the Under-23s have played nine games, the clocks have gone back and the leaves have fallen off the trees.
“It's the first proper injury I've had so, mentally, I think I've done well to cope with not playing for that amount of time but Dan, the Academy physio, has been great in getting me back, so I'd like to thank him. He made sure I didn't lose my head when I was injured. I know you can get frustrated and it affects you, but I made sure I got in early and used the gym.”
Jakubiak has been eased back into action and treated with kid gloves. He played half-an-hour of the 2-0 win over Bristol City and then the same again in the chastening 6-1 cup defeat at Blackburn. He was then, as part of a carefully thought out plan, played from the off against Crystal Palace yesterday and lasted the pace.
“I'm a bit tired but I feel good considering this is my first 90 minutes in nearly three months,” he said. “I'm still a bit rusty so I'm just building up fitness now. The only way I'm going to do that is by getting games so I'll just keep kicking on until January and then see where we go from there.”
Is a sixth loan spell a possibility?
“We'll see in January,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone. I'd like to be somewhere where I'm playing games regularly, week in and week out, preferably in the league somewhere. That would really help me develop as a person and as a player. We'll see what happens.”