Norwich City striker Wilbraham on comeback trail
Aaron Wilbraham is still happy he sacrificed the rest of his season to aid Norwich City's promotion cause – and bag the three points at Leicester that got some fans dreaming of the Premier League.
Still to win over some of the Canaries' support following a New Year move from MK Dons, Wilbraham had to fight through the pain barrier at the Walkers Stadium in March having suffered a back injury in the disappointing draw with Preston at Carrow Road three days earlier.
And the big man delivered a big performance, scoring his first goal for the club to earn a 3-2 win at the play-off hopefuls – although he soon knew it would be his last outing of the campaign. The rest would be up to his team-mates.
'It was good to get my first goal and because it was a winning goal that got us our three points, obviously I was delighted,' said Wilbraham.
'Then I had the disappointment the next day of waking up and realising the damage I had done to my back by playing that game. But it was worth it for the three points when you look back at it – I'd take that all day.
'I had a scan before the Leicester game and I knew that by playing it could possibly make it worse, but I wanted to play. We had a few injuries at the time so every player was vital.
'The gaffer knew I was struggling and he just said go and do your best, and we managed to win the game.
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'It was disappointing to miss the run in. I wanted to be involved but it's just one of those things. A lot of footballers have worse injuries and you have got to get over it.
'And the boys went and did it, so it was quality. It's not about one goal and three points here and there, but a great performance by the lads all season.'
Centre-back Leon Barnett was already on his long road to recovery from a serious hamstring injury when Wilbraham joined him on the treatment table, and both will have similar plans for the summer as they look to be back fit in time for the start of pre-season training with the rest of their team-mates.
'It's been six and a half weeks since my operation, I've done a bit of running for the first time and it's feeling good, so I can start to progress,' said Wilbraham, 31.
'The good thing is me and Leon are at exactly the same stage, so we can do a mini pre-season now to get us fit enough to go away and enjoy our holiday, and then get back ready to start pre-season.
'Once I knew I was out for the season, I just had to accept my season was over – same with Leon really, and we just sat back and did as much as we could off the field to encourage and help the lads and support them.
'That's all we could do, be a supporter, and it wasn't nice – really nervy. But the lads did a great job and it is a great achievement.
'We were at all the home games and a couple away. For the Portsmouth game I had all the injured lads, physios and people that hadn't travelled round at my house watching the game and it was good.
'All the girlfriends and wives were watching at Andrew Crofts' house next door, so when the goal went in we were all banging on the walls to each other – it was good night.'
There will be much anticipation for Wilbraham, along with everyone else connected to Norwich City, as the club gears itself for the Premier League campaign that starts on August 13.
'I'm back running, so I can see the light and I'm just looking forward to next season, getting a good pre-season under my belt and obviously all the lads are really excited to go and get a chance at the Premier League – that's what everyone is going to be working hard to do,' added the striker.