Striker speaks following his return to first team action in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Brighton
Having seen Wanderers secure a late point against league leaders Brighton on his return to the starting XI, Max Clayton was pleased both with the result and his own efforts on the field.
Sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury last December, the striker featured for 83 minutes of the Whites’ 2-2 draw with the Seagulls on Saturday afternoon – his first action for the senior side in nine months.
And speaking to bwfc.co.uk following the final whistle, the 21-year-old admitted his delight at having finally reached the end of a long road back to first team football.
“All the hard work has been worth it, definitely,” he told the club. “There’s been a lot of dark days in the build-up to getting back out on the pitch and getting a good result as we did against Brighton makes it all worth it.
“The thought of getting back out there on the field is what drives you on – you ultimately want to come back a better playing and now hopefully I’ll be able to go on a run to prove that I’m better than I was before.
“It has been difficult watching on from the sidelines, but we’ve been massively unlucky in a lot of games - against Derby on the opening day, we were very good and if we’d have won that game, maybe we’d have been looking at a different season.”
Paired upfront with Gary Madine in the clash – a man whose late header ultimately earned Bolton a share of the spoils – Clayton was thrilled to see his teammate get off the mark for the club.
“Gary managed to get the equaliser today, but he’s had chances to score and if one of those opportunities had gone in earlier in the season, I think we’re looking at a different striker.
“Fingers crossed, we can push on now while hopefully Gaz and I can have a good partnership and get some goals.
“The gaffer asked me to play around him and come short and long - Gary seemed pleased with what we were able to do together too, so hopefully that can carry on.”
He continued: “I was thrown in at the deep end a little bit, but there’s nothing better than testing yourself when you come back from a long term injury.
“Ultimately though, to come back from two goals down to draw against the league leaders is a very good feeling.
“I felt very good out there today – I could probably have completed the full 90, but the precaution in bringing me off was probably the right thing. I did have a couple of chances too which was great, but the more games I play, the easier they’ll be to stick away.
“I’ve worked extremely hard in my rehab and the team here have really put me through my paces so I feel very fit and ready to go on,” he explained.
“The crowd were pumping me too – the adrenaline was amazing and really pushed us all through.
“We just need to take those performances away from home now – our form at Macron Stadium has never been an issue. We just need to believe in ourselves on our travels and believe that we can win, starting with Queens Park Rangers next weekend.”
Tweets by @OfficialBWFC