West Ham's Dyer desperate to make up for lost time after 15 months of injury nightmare
By Ken Dyer
Kieron Dyer is walking on air and ready for a comeback after 15 months of misery at West Ham.
The former England star broke his leg in a Carling Cup tie against Bristol Rovers in August 2007 and has since endured three operations that left him questioning whether he would ever play football again.
Now though, he is finally ready to return, thanks to his determination and a £50,000 state-of-the-art machine, the 'Alter G-Trainer'.
Top physiotherapist John Green, who treats a number of top stars such as Dyer, West Ham team-mate Dean Ashton and Newcastle's Michael Owen, bought the revolutionary machine after a visit to US basketball team LA Lakers.
Dyer, who has won 32 England caps in a career plagued by injury, won't be involved in tonight's match at Liverpool but will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week.
'Every day I feel sharper and I do believe I now I need make up for lost time,' he said. 'My 30th birthday is coming up later this month and some players start to look toward the end of their careers when they reach that milestone.
'With the amount of football I've missed though, I feel I have a good five years still left in me. Hopefully the club are organising a game behind closed doors this week for myself and Jonathan Spector, who is also coming back after a long injury. It will be great to get that first game under my belt.
'It all depends how I go after that. I'm not going to say I'm going to be thrown straight back into the first team. I'll be wearing a heart-rate monitor and my fitness levels will be judged.
'Ideally I will have three or four preparation games and then be ready, perhaps for the Christmas period.'
Dyer has always tried to remain positive but he admitted there have been some real low points over the last 15 months.
'The lowest I got was probably just before this season started,' said the midfielder. 'The first team squad had gone to Toronto but I stayed behind to finish a great pre-season with John Green.
'I went back training with the kids while the senior squad were in Canada and I felt great - I was really flying.
'When they came back from Canada I joined in training and felt sharp. It was great to be back amongst the lads again.
'But then it all went wrong. We were doing a one-on-one training session, I turned quickly and felt a shooting pain in my shin. I went for an X-ray straight away and they told me I had a stress response to the original fracture.
'That was my lowest point because I was so close to coming back and then to be told that I was going to be out for another three months was pretty heartbreaking.
'An injury like this usually takes six to nine months but I had so many setbacks. One operation is usually enough but I ended up having three on the same leg and there was nothing I could do.
'I was probably a nightmare around the house but I've had a few setbacks in my career so I'm accustomed to dealing with it in my own way and I tried not to let it affect anyone else too much.'
Everything has now changed thanks to a new revolutionary piece of equipment brought it by Green. It is a treadmill enveloped inside a huge bag which, when inflated, changes the air pressure within.
The user zips himself into the bag and can then, by tapping in simple instructions onto a screen, reduce his body weight by anything up to 30 per cent.
This means that recuperating players such as Dyer and Ashton, who is recovering from an ankle operation, can run on the treadmill without the impact on their joints which would delay their return.
'It's the nearest thing to running on the moon,' said Dyer. 'Dean's very fortunate to have that machine at the start of his rehabilitation. I was coming to the end of my rehab when John Green bought it over from the United States.
'It helped me no end and I am convinced that, if I had been using that machine from the start, I would have been playing football by now.
'It's invaluable when you have suffered an injury such as mine. When the shin has had a severe trauma, impact work can be very uncomfortable.
'With that machine, you can reduce you body weight by so much, it means you can ease your way into things.'
Dyer now believes the dark days are behind him and even though Alan Curbishley, who brought him to Upton Park from Newcastle, has been sacked, the winger hopes he can make a difference for Gianfranco Zola.
Dyer added: 'In a way I feel sorry for Alan Curbishley because he bought me, Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy and, while he was manager, we probably only played 20 games between us.
'But Gianfranco Zola has also been good to me. On his first day he called me into his office and said he remembered playing against me.
'He liked the way I played and it suited the way he wants to go. Now, after all this time, I can hopefully begin to repay peoples' faith in me.'