Brighton & Hove Albion striker Sam Baldock revealed his heartbreak at missing the club’s start to life in the Premier League, but is hopeful of returning to the first-team squad after featuring for the under-23s on Monday night.
Due to a calf injury, Baldock hasn’t featured for Chris Hughton’s team this season, but after playing 60 minutes for the under-23s at the Amex, he’s now focused on putting a difficult start to the campaign behind him.
“To be an observer for the first few months has been heartbreaking. I’ve been more determined than ever to get back fit and in the team, but there’s a lot of quality around and it’s not going to be easy.
“I’d like to think I’m a different sort of option to anyone else we’ve got, so if the manager feels there’s space for me in one way or another, I’d be delighted.
“I’ve played 60 minutes and came out of it feeling good, so hopefully he takes that into consideration. I’d like to throw my name in the hat and see if I can influence the squad over the coming weeks.”
The 28-year-old was pleased to finally get back on the pitch after weeks on the sideline, and commented on the injury that ruled him out of Hughton’s plans, after undergoing treatment in the summer.
“It’s been a long time coming. It was a different sort of intensity to what I’m used to, but it was good to put on the shirt again and walk across that white line.
“I’ve had ongoing calf problems, probably going back five or six years, so we tried to put an end to it over the summer.
“I had a minor operation and I’m not sure if that particularly worked or not, due to no fault of anyone else. It didn’t seem to be the solution, so it was back to the drawing board, to start again.
“It’s been a very frustrating time, mentally draining as well as physically, but it was really pleasing to get back out there.”
Baldock signed a new three-year contract following the club’s promotion to the Premier League, and the forward praised the efforts made to keep last season’s successful playing squad together.
“It was pleasing to get rewarded at the end of last season; it shows what the manager and board think of me.
“They wanted to keep the core of last year’s team together and I think we’ve done that. Looking forward, I think it’s looking fairly positive.
“We’re disappointed to not get the three points on Sunday [v Everton], but it’s a team and squad that we’re confident in.”