Hammond on Hold

Tuesday 9 March 2004

He's a headline writer's dream and after breaking into the first team towards the end of last season, journalists nationwide were undoubtedly leafing through their Elvis Presley record collections in preparation for another season of top quality punnage, as young Fulham striker Elvis Hammond looked set to strengthen his claims for first team action.

The campaign started well for Hammond with the front man securing a loan deal to current First Division table-toppers Norwich City to gain further experience and match fitness. However, his spell at Carrow Road was cut short after picking an injury whilst on duty with the Canaries, and it was downhill from there on.

"I was sent back from Norwich because I picked up an injury that was going to take around three weeks to clear up," he explained.

"I got fully fit but then I broke my kneecap in a reserve game - I went to lunge for the ball and I felt my knee go. I was alright to carry on for a while but after I came off I could barely walk. I had to have an operation about two weeks later to remove a piece of broken bone."

Following the operation and a period of rehabilitation, Hammond was back on the verge of full fitness but after taking part in a behind-closed-doors reserve friendly against Leyton Orient, he suffered an adverse reaction.

"I went through some rehab but when I came back there was still some pain. In the end I thought it would be better to get my knee one hundred percent right and maybe look towards end of this season or next season. It's better to make a sacrifice now because it will benefit me later on.

"Some days my knee would feel good but it never got to a stage where it was totally better. I was able to get by with the injury but it was better to start on rehabilitation and hopefully by the end of the season I could get fully fit.

"The medical team told me that they would my knee right but I might also have to face facts and cancel this season."

After scoring enough goals in the Premiership Reserve League to ensure that he finished top scorer before filling in for Louis Saha in the final few games of last season - Hammond was justifiably looking forward to, what he hoped would be, his breakthrough season.

"I had high hopes for this season," he said. "But as they say, things never go according to plan. I was looking to be in and amongst the other strikers but it didn't work out that way. I was told by the management that I would get my chance if I did well - no problem. It was basically up to me whether I took the opportunity."

That opportunity was snatched away but his time on the sidelines has helped to give him a fresh, new outlook on the game.

"When you're playing you tend to take everything for granted. It's when you're not playing that you suddenly realise how much you miss it. If I don't get it right for this season, I definitely want to be ready for the start of pre-season - even if that means coming in during the summer.

"At the end of the day, even if I'm given some time off I'll come back early to do what I have to - it is a short-lived career so you've got to try and make the most of it."