Mansfield Town Player of the Year Elliott Hewitt ready for long road to recovery from serious knee injury
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Hewitt picked up eight Player of the Year awards on crutches last weekend after tearing his ACL against Leyton Orient and said: “Everyone has got round me and been good to me.
“A few lads rang me Friday night when they found out. I am sure everyone will support me through my rehab and get me back on the pitch.
“All the trophies I won meant a lot. It was bittersweet collecting them on crutches and I would probably rather someone else had won them and not been injured.
“But it was nice to win them and I am thankful for everyone that voted for me.
“It's always nice for the fans to back you and give you recognition. But as an individual award there's no better than one from your team mates.
“Obviously my season has come to an early end and I just need to concentrate on getting back fit as quick as I can for the back end of next season.”
Now the hard graft begins for the star defender and he knows it is going to be mentally as well as physically draining.
“I was out for quite a while when I was 17 or 18 when I had two hip injuries and two operations on them. But the older you get the more you're playing so it's more frustrating now,” he said.
“I think I will be okay mentally. There will obviously be bumps in the road, but I expect that and I have good lads and staff around me here and good family at home that will help me through it.
“A few of the lads have done it before and they are back playing fine.
“I was told how bad the injury was Friday night before Saturday's game. It was obviously a big blow.
“I had an idea it could be that but I didn't want to think the worst. Then when you told the news, it's heartbreaking. But it is what it is. That's football.
“I have got to get my leg as straight as I can and get the swelling down and then it will be ready to operate on, so we're looking at about five weeks.
“If I can get some strength in it before the operation it will help me afterwards.
“I will get a holiday in before then, rest up and then I am ready to crack on with the rehab after which will be about nine months, but hopefully sooner.”
Recalling the incident, he said: “I went into the tackle, probably with my wrong foot as I went across my body with my right foot. He went to try to get his body in the way of me and the ball and just sort of fell on my knee.
“I knew it was bad. It was quite sore when I did it. But I stood up and heard people say you feel like your knee is collapsing when you've done it. Mine didn't feel like that so I tried to get back on the pitch to see if it would ease up a bit.
“I wanted to give myself a few minutes. But straight away the ball came towards me for a header and when I landed I thought it's not good and sat down again and went off.
“Maybe the new contract curse struck me as Rhys Oates signed his and got injured, George Maris signed his and got injured and I signed mine and got injured.
“I have never seen an injury list for any club anywhere like this season before. Everyone that has been injured could easily have played 40+ games this season – they're all really good players.”
Hewitt believes the strength of the squad is what has helped him perform to such a high standard.
“It has been a good season,” he said. “I have enjoyed playing games and been consistent.
“I am not skilful or exciting to watch but I just do my job and the fans have obviously appreciated that this season.
“I think the competition for places has helped me play so well. We have a great squad here when everyone is fit.
“I didn't start the season playing so when you get your chance you have to try to keep your place which thankfully I did for the rest of the season.
“I have played in different positions – it's been needed this season. But I am not the only one, other lads have done it too.”
On Monday's big game at Colchester where Stags could make the play-offs if they win and other results go their way, he added: “Obviously it's a big game on Monday for us and I would love to be out there helping the lads.
“But we have a good enough squad and hopefully we will go down there and get three points and do our bit. We have the players to do that.
“The most nervous I have been all season was watching the Harrogate game. It's a lot harder watching than playing.
“It has been tough but we still have a small chance on Monday. The lads are positive.”