Dunfermline Athletic

Mental strength brings Martin back

Wednesday, 5th Jan 2022

“It went into both my feet. That`s when my head started to think what`s this? I don`t know what this is.

Following appearances in bounce matches against Livingston and Falkirk, Dunfermline manager was pleased to offer Lewis Martin a contract until the end of the season. The 25 year old defender has not played a competitive match since March 2020 as a consequence of an illness but now he is over it, John Hughes has been impressed by the player who he feels capable of playing anywhere across the back four or in central midfield.

When Covid caused the 2019-2020 season to end Lewis had made 31 starts out of a possible 35 for the Pars. He was preparing for the following season when he was struck down by a condition that proved hard to shed. Some seventeen months further on he is delighted to have impressed enough to earn a new contract at the club where he came up through the youth system to make over 150 first team appearances before his 24th birthday. He told the website:-

“It`s been a while. It`s been a long time since I`ve been training - well, proper training anyway - so it`s been tough, but I`m delighted to be back involved. It`s been really good.

“I played in two bounce games. I came on in the second half, last 40 minutes, and I was centre back so I wasn`t running about that much. Then, in the game against Livingston, I was centre mid, which was a wee bit different from what I`ve usually been playing. I think I played 60 that game and I felt good, but I`ve not had a game since, so I just need to try and get another game in. Soon, hopefully.”

Lewis was on the bench at Stark’s Park on Sunday and if he is on the bench again for the match at Morton this Saturday he hopes it could be a repeat of his Dunfermline debut when Jim Jefferies used him as a late sub in the 1-0 win on 13th April 2013.

“I made my first-team debut there. It will just be a great feeling if I`m honest. It was a great feeling just being on the bench on Sunday and back involved with the boys. Even though I was on the bench, it was still a good feeling, first time back, and hopefully when I do get a game it`ll be a great feeling.”

The comeback is all the happier given the months of worrying about his footballing career, not knowing if he would ever pull on a strip again and then the battle to get back to full fitness.

It all started last pre-season, Lewis was on the bench when he got a shooting pain in the side of his foot. He explained:-

“They sent me for scans on my right foot, but then over time, it went into both my feet. That`s when my head started to think what`s this? I don`t know what this is. At Christmas time, I felt it in my fingers as well and that`s when my head was all over the place. Basically my toes, my feet and my hands were getting so much pain. When I was walking, my feet were killing me. I didn`t know if I was ever going to get better, and I couldn`t do the gym, I couldn`t go to training.

“Most of the time I was just coming in to get a massage in my feet and my hands and then going home. It wasn`t until this season that they figured out what was wrong and slowly built that up. It wasn`t really an injury, it was more a health issue that took a while to get to the bottom of.

“It was a case of seeing the doctor, getting my blood tests taken, and being put on tablets. They`ve helped massively because I`ve not got any pain and I don`t really need them that much anymore. I`m pain-free now.”

Since coming back for pre-season this year Lewis was under the physios, at first it was Karen Gibson and then Tommy Scanlon:-

“They have been brilliant with me and helped me get to the bottom of it. I`ve just been working at getting my fitness back, getting my strength back, and him and Paul Green, the sports scientist and strength and conditioning coach, have been great with me.

“I was doing running for weeks but it was worth it at the end of it! I`ve just been trying my hardest to push as hard as I can to get back to being fit and getting back involved in the training.”

Lewis paid tribute to his family and the Pars supporters for helping him through tough times:-

“My family`s been great with me, and then this season, my girlfriend`s been really good. My family tried to keep me going, keep my head right and, as I say, since I came back in this season it felt a lot different because they finally got to the bottom of it and the pain started going away.

“The fans have been great. Tweeting and messaging me to say they`re happy I`m back. It gets my confidence up and it`s good they`ve not forgot about me because it`s been that long.
Hopefully I can get back on the park and get back playing in front of them again.”

The other encouragement has come from the manager and Lewis said it was a real boost to hear John Hughes praising his attitude:-

“I`ve been out so long but, since I`ve came back this season, I`ve always tried my best. It`s just been a case of trying my best to get as fit as possible, and show the manager that I can get back match fit, playing and hopefully back in the team.”

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