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Conor Wilkinson speaks to Saddlers Shout

7 February 2023

The latest edition of Saddlers Shout will be available at Saturday's match against Leyton Orient.

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

Saddlers forward Conor Wilkinson sat down for an exclusive interview in Saddlers Shout where he opens up about his battle overcoming his recent knee injury. 

Here is a snippet of our chat with the 28-year-old. 

Conor, thanks for joining us. Firstly, it was a point for the team last time out against Northampton. What was your assessment of that one?

“I feel like both defences defended very well. There were not many chances created in the game, hence why it was a 0-0 draw. Northampton are good at what they are, they’ve got a good back line and they shut up shop and they’re close and tight at the back so it’s hard to create chances against them. On the other hand, we’ve probably got one of the best back lines in the league and going off the run we’ve been on, you’ve seen that we’ve not conceded many goals and we’ve done quite well to turn it around from where we were at one point in the season.”

Despite not creating too many chances, were there still positives to take from the game?

“I think the majority of us came in from that game thinking it’s a point gained but maybe it was two points lost because I feel like they were there for the taking and we lacked that bit of creativity in the team on the day. We never really had any clear cut chances where we could have said ‘that could have been us.’ We were a bit annoyed after the game to not walk away with three points because I feel like second half, if anyone was going to win the game, it would have been us.”

Salford was your first start since April and that’s the longest you’ve played in a match for almost a year. How did you feel that went for you?

“It was massive, I just wish it was a bit of a better game to play in because it was quite ding-dong and there wasn’t much football played and I like to play football, it’s one of the strengths of my game. It was an unbelievable feeling to be walking out of that tunnel to start a game, no one knows and understands how much I’ve missed that. I just wish we could have got the ball down, played and I could have showed my qualities but we didn’t and that is part and parcel of the game. We have to dust ourselves down and go again. I’ve got to work hard to try and get that next start again.”

You mentioned that feeling in tunnel at Salford. What was the feeling like when you stood on the side waiting to come on against Swindon Town on Boxing Day?

“I don’t think you can buy that feeling. I came back reasonably early from the injury, I think it was eight months and three weeks and the week I was meant to come back, we had a game called off and it was disappointing because I thought that was going to be the week. We get to Swindon and the gaffer gives me the nod and there’s so many things going through your head because the last game I played was April 9th and there’s a little doubt in my head that what happens if that process happens again and I am probably at more risk than other people now but that feeling, you can’t match it. Walking down that tunnel on Tuesday night, there is no other feeling that can beat it, apart from scoring obviously, but walking out to a game, there is no other thrill or buzz in life that I can get from that.”

It was at Rochdale away last season where the injury occurred. Did you know straight away that it was potentially a serious one?

“I knew straight away. I felt it was quite a bad tackle, I felt I was on the receiving end of a wrong tackle. If I could have stepped two yards out the way, believe me I would have, he came straight through the back of me. It might sound like I’m exaggerating but it felt like my knee had been shot. I was speaking to Matty Stevens about it and he said he tried to carry on but I knew straight away that I was in trouble. I got carried off the pitch, went down the tunnel and the doctor said to me there’s nothing holding together in the knee and then I just burst out into tears and then there’s so many doubts going through your head.”

Did you get a lot of support around you on the day and in the weeks that followed? 

“It was mixed emotions because we were trying to salvage our season and trying to get as many points on the board as we possibly could. I think we lost 1-0. No one really understood the extent of my injury apart from myself and the medical staff so some of the boys were a bit annoyed we lost 1-0 because it was a chance to pick up some points and climb up the table but when the news broke out, this is probably one of the best changing rooms I’ve ever been in so I had a lot of support. We scored the day I had surgery and Jez (Jack Earing) held my shirt out and that was quite touching and brought a tear to my eye when I was in the hospital bed. I know it was such a down time but there was some sort of happiness because it meant a lot and I know the lads were rooting for me.”

Pick up a copy of Saddlers Shout for just £4 at Saturday's match to read the full interview with Conor. 

Here is Saturday's cover: 

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