Injury was lowest point for Accrington Stanley defender
MISSING the end of last season may have been the lowest point of Dean Winnard’s career so far, but the fit-again Accrington Stanley defender has thanked Paul Cook for the decision that ultimately could protect his long-term future in the game.
Winnard was ruled out of the final 14 matches of the 2011/12 campaign after undergoing an ankle operation, finally succumbing to the pain after battling on for as long as he could.
It is typical of the 22-year-old’s determination, which has seen him become a central figure at Stanley since arriving at the Crown Ground three years ago.
But Winnard knows that ultimately his future was best served by having surgery and he has returned to action in pre-season, helping Stanley to a 1-0 victory over his old club Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
“It was one of the hardest points I’ve ever had in my career so far at the end of last season,” he said.
“Having to stand on the sidelines and watch the lads play and not even to be able to train. It wasn’t nice.
“It was hurting me quite a bit for a few games when I was playing, but the gaffer came in and has been brilliant with me. He said he doesn’t want anyone playing with injuries, so he told me to get sorted and be right for this season.
“Hopefully it should help me long term. He also said that, he said, ‘We want you to have a long career, it’s not about one season’.”
Stanley, who are back in pre-season action at AFC Fylde tonight at 7.30pm, start their season at Carlisle in the League Cup on August 11 before commencing their League Two campaign at Southend seven days later.
Winnard featured for an hour against Rovers at the weekend and was handed the captaincy for the day against the club he represented in the youth team and the reserves before his Stanley switch in 2009.
He had been named club captain midway through last season following Andy Procter’s departure to Preston but Luke Joyce took over during his injury absence and he says he does not yet know who will be the skipper this term.
“The gaffer’s not mentioned anything, I think maybe Luke Joyce or myself, we’ll see what the gaffer says,” said Winnard, who attracted tentative interest from John Coleman’s Rochdale earlier in the summer.
“It was a nice game to play in against a local well-known club on Saturday. We did pretty well, it was a passing game, I think everyone knew it would be like that.
“I feel like I’m getting stronger day by day.
“I’m still not 100 per cent there but hopefully by the first day of the season I will be.
“Every season’s the same, I’m just hoping to do well and help the team to do well, and let’s see where it takes us.”