By Lambros Lambrou
“I have always had a problem with the tightening of the muscles in the groin area,” begins Josh, explaining a recent injury mystery. “Gradually the problem became worse and painful. I had a good season last year and was so keen to pick up and keep progressing but I only played one full game in pre-season. The Under-18 game against West Ham two weeks ago was my first full match back”, declares the midfielder.
“It took a while to get to the root of the problem. It has been stop-start all season. The physios have been great, but it has been a challenge for them. I would rest the injury, have some treatment and they would send me out to training, only for me to come back in again. Then we would try something else, but with the same results.
“It was quite worrying because it seemed so complicated and we were not making progress. A leg break is a bad injury, but with that, there is a set path back to full fitness. With my injury, we were not sure of the way forward and I was quite worried that we would not find the answer.
“However,” continues Josh, “after a lot of investigation, it was eventually found that some of the muscles in my groin were over-working. It was a biomechanical problem. Once the cause was identified, a series of exercises were developed and refined to help correct it. As I got better at the exercises, I found an improvement in the injury and now I feel strong. I have to do the exercises every day but I can now run and kick a ball without pain. It was also found that my running style was not helping,” he explains.
“So I have been trying to adopt a more relaxed, less stiff and tense action. I am also following a Yoga class. Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott, Sebastien Squillaci and Vito Mannone were all doing it. I was intrigued and so I joined their class and gave it a go. I found it very helpful and the other week, Mr. Wenger joined in too. It helps relax and strengthen muscles at the same time. I certainly felt the benefits after the first session. I felt loose and relaxed. I want to incorporate it into my routine if possible now.”
The treatments and exercises certainly look to be working as Josh excelled in the 1-0 win over West Ham. As he explained, it was the 18 year-old’s first game back, but no-one would have believed it. “It was a tough game, but I felt really good. I have always been quite fit and the work I did with the fitness coach Craig Gant really helped and so I felt ready.
“I also believe that the experience I gained last season helped me because I perhaps used my energy more efficiently. I really enjoyed the game, but being out for so long also makes you appreciate the little things. I found myself smiling and really enjoying the pre-match routines. Every second of training feels even more special because when you are side-lined and worried about your future, when you get back you take nothing for granted.”
The youngster did receive a boost during the dark times he experienced early in the season: “I was told last May that I would be given a professional contract, but when I picked up the injury and all the uncertainty around it, I was a little worried. Liam Brady came to me in September and asked me to put pen to paper and that was massive for me. I was getting a little depressed with the injury, but the fact that Arsenal showed that confidence in me despite the injury was so inspirational and encouraged me so much.”
Josh now hopes to play as often as he can for the Under-18s and Reserves but also the FA Youth Cup side too. “We have a good group this year and I want to be a part of the Cup team, but also I would love to be involved in us winning our Under-18s league and the Academy Trophy."
Height: 5ft 9ins
Teams played for before Arsenal?
Southend High School, Deanswood Youth and Essex County
Best advice ever?
As long as you put in 100 per-cent in everything you do you can never be disappointed in your performance
Best football moment before joining Arsenal?
Winning four tournaments in one year at Deanswood when I was about seven
Supported growing up?
Pretended to be on the playground?
Fave kids’ TV show growing up?
Pokemon or The Simpsons
Other sports good at?
I ran for my county and also played basketball, cricket and rugby to a good competitive level
Other clubs interested before signing for Arsenal?
Fave item of clothing?
Probably my trainers - I’ve been told I have a lot!
Three words to describe yourself as a person...
Quiet, laid-back, friendly
Follow on Twitter...
Russell Brand, Stephen Fry, Lord Sugar
Who was your favourite teacher at school?
I had a good friendship with all the PE staff and still have contact with them about my progress
Three words to describe you as a player...
Industrious, committed, versatile
Most talented team-mate?
Jordan Wynter – he’s an mazing rapper who goes by the name of Majestik