United’s Ponte star wants to prove he’s back for good

Ben Parker, on the road to recovery.
Ben Parker, on the road to recovery.

LEEDS United’s Pontefract-born defender Ben Parker is looking to go out on loan in a bid to prove his fitness and earn a new contract with the Npower Championship club.

The former England youth captain played in the first round Carling Cup tie against Bradford City in August, but has been out of action for the last four months with the latest in a line of injuries and even considered quitting the game.

In total the 24-year-old former St Wilfrid’s RC School pupil has only made four starts for the Whites since suffering a hip injury against Exeter in August 2009 with several failed comebacks and false dawns.

But after returning to full training he now hopes to have put the frustrations of the past two-and-a-half years behind him and wants to prove his worth to the club. He is out of contract next summer and said it would be a “dream come true” if he could continue with United.

Parker said: “It got to the point a couple of months ago where I considered not playing again.

“But thanks to Harvey Sharman and the physios, I can’t pay enough respect to what they have done for me.

“I was in Harvey’s office one day, crying my eyes out, saying I was getting nowhere, but thankfully he was there to support me and dragged me through these difficult times.

“It started with my hips, then my back, then it got my Achilles, hamstring, groin - it really has been one thing after another. You could never put your finger on it and deal with it because up until the past few months there’s always been something niggling me.

“We thought we knew what the problem was in the summer so I had an operation on my back, but unfortunately against Bradford another problem flared up. Thankfully Harvey found someone in London with a different opinion, someone with fresh ideas and fresh eyes. Touch wood, it seems to have worked. He’s been brilliant, as all the medical staff have.

“I’ve played a few games and trained and people have been commenting on how I look a yard sharper. That’s made me feel brilliant.

“I know I’m a long way off from where I can be, but the main thing is I’m back playing again. A couple of months ago that didn’t look like being the case.”

Parker knows he has a fight on his hands to regain a first team place at Leeds with Aidan White impressing in the left-back role this season, but is keen to show manager Simon Grayson that he can play a part.

He added: “I’d be stupid to think I’ll sit around and bide my time at Leeds or that the manager’s going to throw me in - it’s too much of a risk for him.

“I need to go out on loan and prove myself, to show that I can play games without getting injured and to prove to the football world I’m still here able to play.

“Hopefully it’ll be a possibility to go out on loan for a month to get some games and then take it from there.

“I’ve had great support from so many people and everyone’s been brilliant. What I want to do now is repay their faith.”