Ordinarily, talk of Jermaine Jenas suffering any kind of ‘break’ should send another shudder through the injury-plagued Aston Villa midfielder’s all-too-brittle body.
However, Jenas is using this particular fracture – his heartbreak at having his Villa career so far ruined by thigh and Achilles problems – as a source of motivation, not frustration.
At Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground where Jenas has spent the last two months recovering, the loanee candidly discussed for the first time the long wait for his claret and blue debut.
Fingers crossed, Jenas should be available as a substitute for Saturday’s Premier League match against Norwich at Villa Park, but the wise 28-year-old has experienced too many false dawns to get carried away.
Even so, a place on the bench, with manager Alex McLeish preferring to re-introduce him gently to the demands of first-team football, is a welcome escape from the purgatory of the physio’s room.
“It was heartbreaking,” admits Jenas. “I was so excited about the prospect of starting at a new club and then I felt a little twinge in my quad on the Thursday.
“I was just thinking: “I hope not!” Sometimes these sorts of things go away but other times they stay and prolong themselves.
“I stuck with it and got through to Friday. I was shaping to shoot and just as I hit it I felt a twang through my whole body.
“I just knew but I stayed positive and thought ‘Ok, it’ll be just one game. It might not be too severe.’ Then I had the Achilles injury too.
“I came back, worked hard and all of a sudden my Achilles’ was really, really sore. I just thought ‘what more?’
“It’s been a real, real test of mental strength.
“Thankfully I have been outside and done ball work for three days and trained with the team. So touch wood, things are going right and come the weekend hopefully I will be involved.
“I can’t wait to put that shirt on and run out at Villa Park and hear the crowd. I want to play and help the team get a win in any game I play. If I can put in a good performance or even score a goal, that would be amazing.”
Despite spending the first eight weeks of his season-long loan on the treatment table, Jenas has been made to feel part of the club and is grateful to McLeish, his medical staff and new team-mates for their support.
He agreed with the manager’s decision to rest him for another game last weekend despite the temptation to boost Villa’s midfield options by naming him in the squad for the 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
“The gaffer spoke to me about Sunderland,” Jenas explains. “He said ‘Look, since you’ve been here, you’ve nearly got fit and rushed it’.
“He said he wanted me ready for the season. We had a chat and we hopefully made the right decision. It’s a long season and I want to get plenty of games under my belt.
“Everyone at Villa has been fantastic. It’s been great, first and foremost, to settle into a team. The lads in the dressing room are brilliant.
“It feels like I’ve been here a few years. I know quite a few of them anyway but they have made me feel comfortable and easy. That’s helped with the injury issues I have had.
“The medical staff have been superb and the gaffer has been supportive throughout the whole situation. He’s been eager to get me involved. He’d ring me, speak to me and reassure me that I’m still in his plans so that’s been a big drive for me to work hard and get myself fit.”