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Cheltenham Town’s Elliot Bonds on his recovery from an 11-month lay-off, first goal over Sunderland and Kidderminster Harriers loan

“It was a whirlwind of emotions. It felt like everything built up to that moment.”

A wide grin ran across Elliot Bonds’ face as his casted his mind back to his long-range rocket against Sunderland in February. It was his first goal for the Robins but its significance stretched far beyond the confines of the pitch.

It was the crowning moment in an emotional journey. 11 months on the sidelines with an anterior cruciate ligament injury had taken its toll mentally on Bonds but his successful return has made all the hard work worthwhile.

“It’s hard watching from the sidelines,” Bonds admits. “I’ve spent the whole year watching the boys do well and seeing them win the league was tough but it increases the hunger for when you’re back.

“I am back now and I’m half glad that something so big has happened so early in my career. Mentally you have to adapt and learn the hard way and now I want to continue on my path.”

His loan spell to National League outfit Kidderminster Harriers also proved a crucial phase in his rehabilitation.

Bonds was suffering from a lack of minutes and believes it was the perfect tonic to help set him on the road to recovery.

“It was good,” Bonds says. “It was a time when I needed games and it came at a really good time.

“The boys were on a really good run and I went there and did really well.

“I see that as an important part of my season because it helped me get back to my best both physically and mentally.”

His determination has not gone unnoticed by Cheltenham boss Michael Duff.

Regular gym sessions and an eager attitude have been major factors in his remarkable renaissance and Duff believes his unfortunate experience will leave him in good stead for the future.

“He’s proven what we’ve thought about him all along,” Duff observes.

“The injury that he had was horrible so he’s had to work really hard to comeback from that.

“It should also stand him well in the future now because it doesn’t seem to have effected him physically.

“But he won’t take it for granted and he does extra work and sessions in the gym all the time because he appreciate the career he’s got.”

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