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Joe Riley speaks to Saddlers Shout

8 April 2023

The latest edition of Saddlers Shout will be available at Monday's match against Carlisle United.

Supporters can pick up a copy around the ground, at the Club Shop or at the Ticket Office on matchday.

Joe Riley sat down for an exclusive interview in Saddlers Shout where he discussed his long road to recovery from injury and his career to date. 

Here is a snippet of our chat with the 26-year-old.

Joe, thanks for joining us. It’s been a frustrating season for yourself but how pleased are you to be back playing?

“It has been a tough period for myself and for the club as well, we have had our fair share of injuries that seem to be relatively big ones as well but I’m delighted to get back playing and be able to help the team for the rest of this season and also next season.”

There was a lot of excitement after you were unveiled as a Walsall player but you picked up the injury during pre-season. Just talk us through in more detail about what happened?

“As I said earlier on in the season, it was a delight to join the Club. The fans have been nothing but supportive of me, even during the whole period of my injury, it was a bit of a freak injury if you want to call it that. I just had a shooting pain in my foot and it turns out there was a bone fragment that was sat within one of the tendons in my foot that became nearly impossible for specialists to find but thankfully, one of them did and we’ve managed to get to the bottom of it but it has been a frustrating eight or nine months, wanting to do nothing more than to get out there with the boys and play but all I can do is thank the fans for being so supportive and patient during that time and hopefully now I can kick on and repay the fans for that.”

It was certainly a strange situation given it took so long for you to get a diagnosis and even having to maybe play through the pain barrier. It was a long, complicated process, wasn’t it?

“It was a frustrating period; the club were amazing and they stood by me through the whole thing which was more than I could have asked for. The consultants that I saw were unable to find something for so long and at this point, the questions were being asked whether it was potentially in my head. I couldn’t really dispute this because I knew I could feel something but if there was nothing there to be shown then maybe it was in my head so it got to the point where after getting some new insoles and seeing another specialist, the idea was to go out there and try and get through the pain which kind of gave myself and the gaffer a positive outlook and hope that I was going to be on the mend. I came back and again, I could feel it and it was too severe, I couldn’t get through the pain so as you could imagine, it was horrendous. I was questioning myself whether I’m ever going to come back because these pains were never going to be able to be rectified if no one could find the problem. I’m just glad now that thankfully, one specialist while trying to give me an injection was able to find this tiny bone fragment and from there, we’ve been able to get the surgery done and get back playing.”

There must have been some days where you were tearing your hair out with frustration. How difficult was the uncertainty to deal with?

“That was the worst thing. I remember saying at the start, if I’m out for three months now, I can deal with it. I know what it is and this is what we’re going to do. OK, three months is a long time but you take it. In the end, it was nine months and only for the last three months was someone able to find the problem. That was the main thing, the uncertainty of not knowing. As I said, it was getting to the point of knowing if I’m ever going to be able to play again because this pain was in my foot and nobody can find it and if you can’t find something, how do you fix it? I saw the best specialist in the country and in the 40 years doing this job, he’d never seen anything like it so it was just unbearable going back and forth, trying to keep myself positive but almost feeling a sense of guilt towards the club that I’ve joined and the fans so it was a very tough period but it was just an amazing scenario that I’ve been able to get back and a silver lining that I went for an injection in my foot that not many people thought would even do anything, which it didn’t but the one person doing the injection was the one person who said ‘I’m sure there’s a bone fragment in there’ so the silver lining was there and since then we’ve managed to progress and get back playing.”


There's plenty more to come from this interview with Joe so be sure to pick up a copy of Saddlers Shout for just £4 at Monday's match to read the full interview.

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