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Interviews

OLLIE TURTON: “I’M WORKING AS HARD AS I CAN”

14 August 2023

Huddersfield Town defender Ollie Turton discusses rehabilitation from ACL injury

- Huddersfield Town defender Ollie Turton interviewed
- Right back talks about ACL injury and rehab
- Turton targeting return to action in New Year

Despite being awarded a new long-term Huddersfield Town contract and named as number two in the squad list, the 2022/23 season didn’t go to plan for defender Ollie Turton.

A bright part of a struggling Town side in the early part of the season featuring in 17 of our first 18 games, Turton was first sidelined by an ankle ligament injury in October 2022 as Town beat Millwall 1-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium thanks to a Yuta Nakayama goal.

Coming back faster than anticipated thanks to hard work and commitment behind-the-scenes, Turton missed 10 matches before earning a place back on the bench in January 2023, starting the next three consecutive games before injury struck again.

More serious than the first, Turton was forced off in the first half of Town’s fixture with Wigan at the DW Stadium with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, with the man affectionately known as the ‘Ginger Cafu’ still to play since.

Working hard on his rehabilitation and recovery, Turton sat down with htafc.com to discuss his injury and comeback, opening up on how it’s been to watch on for over six months as he works to regain full fitness and be available for selection once again.

“I’m okay, I’m doing alright” Turton says, “it’s just been a long time now, I think it’s like six months now, so it’s been long. I’m hopefully on the other side now and over the hump, because it’s been a struggle to be honest.

“After the first surgery I actually needed a second surgery, but it’s actually looking a bit more promising so hopefully I can get fitter now.”

Ollie Turton 2021 16x9.png

One of the most well liked members of the squad both on and off the field by players, staff and supporters alike, Turts admits that being injured twice was a real blow, especially having been injured again so seriously and so soon after coming back from his first knock.

“It didn’t help, obviously!” he can now joke, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.

“I did my ankle in November, worked hard to get fit and strong again and then I did my ACL so it’s not been great. I’m hoping it makes me mentally stronger in the long run, but don’t get me wrong it’s been hard - especially the last few weeks with the season re-starting and the lads playing games, it’s tough not being part of that but it’s something I’ve got to get over and I’m working hard with the physios to do that.

“I’m looking for a green light soon to start running again, I’ve got a meeting with the surgeon coming up so that’s the aim, but I’ve just got to keep working hard in the gym. Being around the lads obviously helps with the mental side and my family have been great as well.

“It’s been challenging, but it’s something I’ve got to overcome.”

You’re bound to miss a lot when you’re sidelined for the length Turton has been, but even then, with Neil Warnock returning to the Club - twice! - and our remarkable escape from relegation, it’s been an exciting and momentous period to have to sit out. Ollie isn’t shy about admitting he was scared of missing out on the Warnock experience, so was delighted to see him extend his stay.

“When the gaffer first got announced last season it was gutting, because I obviously wanted to play for him - but now I’ve got that chance because he’s stayed on for the year. I want to be fit sooner rather than later so I can be involved, and I’d love to be able to play for him.

“He’s been great with me even though I haven’t been available. Whenever he sees me he asks how I am and how I’m doing, so it’s nice to know that I’m still in his thoughts. The rehab days are long so it’s good because I get to see the gaffer in the gym as well!

“I just want to be able to get back on the training pitch and show him what I can do.”

Ollie Turton Wigan Injury 2023 16x9.png

One of Town’s most consistent and reliable performers at the time of his injuries, Turton made the decision to relinquish squad number two in the summer in favour of his more familiar 20, hoping that his old squad number would bring with it more luck.

“I felt like I was in a really good place before I got injured. I felt like I was playing the best football of my career even though I know our results as a team weren’t the best, but in my own performances I felt like I was doing well. It’s just unfortunate.

“I’ve scrapped the number two now! I’ve gone back to being 20 just for that reason. It’s strange, but I just felt like I couldn’t keep that number from the year that I had with those two injuries, so it’s back to being number 20.

“Don’t get me wrong, it was great for the Club to ask me to be number two, I felt like it was a bit of a reward and that’s why I wanted to take it. Obviously it’s easy with hindsight to say I wish I’d kept number 20 but, it’s nice to be back with that number now having played with it for so many years, it felt right to make that change.”

Fortunately, missing one of the most hectic periods on the pitch for Town allowed Turton time to be more present for his family off it. Welcoming his second child, a son, alongside wife Natalie during his period rehabilitating, he admits there is some feeling of luck where that is concerned, but is quick to underline where his focus quickly returned to with Ollie putting in long hours behind-the-scenes as he ramps up his fitness regime.

“It’s one of the only silver linings of the whole situation is that we’ve had our second child in this time, literally only a couple of weeks after I’d had surgery, so I’ve been able to spend quite a bit more time at home which a lot of footballers don’t get, so I have been lucky in that sense.

“Having been awarded that new contract and how the Club has always been with me, I can’t thank everyone here enough for the support - the physios and how they look after me, the lads and how they are with me, everyone here has been amazing always asking how I’m getting on and wishing me a speedy recovery.

“I had a long time straight after the injury of not being able to do any work at all, especially after surgery. So now to be able to complete some upper body sessions, to get on the Watt Bike and be able to get some exercise and work back up to full fitness - I just don’t want to take any chances and do anything half hearted.

“There’s no point coming in and having an off day, I feel like when I’m here I should work as hard as possible every single day.”

Ollie Turton Media Day Home 2023 16x9.png

Sadly, it wasn’t just Turton to sustain a serious injury last season, with both Matty Pearson and Yuta Nakayama also sidelined. With his recovery overlapping with Nakayama’s more, Ollie admitted that how the Japanese international approached his rehab gave him some inspiration.

“In honesty, you can probably say that I’ve looked up to how Yuta handled his rehab. He was out for so long but has one of the best work ethics at the Club, and the physios rave about how he just on with everything and always had a smile on his face doing it.

“To see him come back and play the way he has, just looking the old Yuta we saw before the injury, he’s a real credit to himself because he’s a great lad as well. For that time that our rehab did overlap, it’s great to say and I really want him to do well.

“I can’t wait for him to be involved even more, and this all comes from the work he put in to get himself back to where he was before."

With matches every few days during the season and so much else to think about, focus on and process, it’s rare to find players able to be as reflective as Turton is after such a long period away from playing.

“Personally for me, it’s made me realise how much you take for granted being able to play football everyday and then compete at the weekend. You realise how much you do miss it when you’re out for as long as this, and I really miss just coming in to training on the grass every single day and working hard, being around the lads and just being able to play football - you forget how lucky we are sometimes to be doing this.

“I’m just more eager to get back to fitness and enjoy that and enjoy myself again. Being out on the pitch is all I want to do at the minute, and I will get there and hopefully I’ll be able to impress again because it’s my job to try and get into the team and be in the starting line-up. If I can give the Manager some headaches it’s not a bad thing is it? So I’m really looking forward to being back.”

Ollie Turton Media Day Third 2023 16x9.png

So, the big question remains: when does Ollie see himself being back? In typical Turton fashion, the answer is measured and considered, whilst still having more than a streak of ambition and defiance about it.

“The faint idea from what the physios have told me is that it’ll be around New Year that I’ll be back being able to play competitively. I’m hoping I can cut that down a bit! Hopefully I can progress more quickly now I’m over the hump of dealing what I was with before, so New Year is the current target, but to be honest I’ve just been dealing with it by making smaller targets first.

“I haven’t been running again yet, so that’s my next target and then we’ll go from there. But like I say, I’m hoping to progress faster than what they think and then I can return quicker, that’s the plan.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise given how well they’ve played together for Town that Turton’s answer and desire to be back ahead of schedule mirrored Matty Pearson’s approach in a similar situation last season, with Ollie fine to acknowledge the similarity between him and his teammate.

“We’re all definitely similar characters. I think Matty would probably try to play with one leg if he had to - but like I said, our job is to be a footballer, so we don’t want to be sat in the stand watching.

“It’s been hard to watch football recently with the new season starting, I hate watching when I want to be playing, even when I’m proud of how the lads are doing like I was on Saturday, because I thought they did brilliantly.

“That just makes you even more eager to be part of it as well, though.”

Ollie Turton Family 2023 16x9.png

It speaks volumes about the man that Turton has been no stranger to the John Smith’s Stadium despite his injury and displeasure at watching along being unable to participate. In spite of that, Ollie turns up to watch each game and be there for the team in any way possible, and was as soon as his knee had healed enough to allow him to.

“You feel helpless because you feel like you can’t do anything to help the lads.

“I tried to be there in the tunnel before and after a game to see the boys on and off because I know I’d appreciate if someone did it for me. I’ll always try to do my bit in that sense.

“But when Wardy scored that goal against Sheffield United, I don’t think I’ve ever cheered for a goal so much in my life! That’s still hard to watch in the stands though, just because of how nervous the end of last season was - the lads did brilliantly and credit to them and the staff for keeping us in the league.”

A family man at heart, Turton’s mind once again turns to home when he’s asked to think about coming back into the side and being involved in the squad once more. Rather than focus on what his own feelings might be upon his return, rather, he chooses to highlight those of his wife.

“I think she started off by being happy that I was around to help and have an extra pair of hands and to be home, but now when I’m coming home in a mood because I’ve been frustrated all day trying to get fitter, I think she’s more than ready for me to be back involved and fully fit again so I’m away from home a bit more!”

It goes without saying that we all can’t wait to see you back out there soon, Turts!

Fancy joining Ollie Turton in getting the number 20 on your back for the new season? CLICK HERE to visit the HTAFC Shop and personalise your own 2023/24 kit however you please!


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