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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Monday, April 2nd 2018

WellRed meets: Jens Hegeler

The central defender returns from injury, just in time for the season's exciting run-in.

How does it feel to be back after five months out through injury?

It’s a great feeling! When I came back against Ipswich Town it was exactly 21 weeks since I picked up my injury – that’s five months so I was out for quite a while! It’s the biggest injury of my entire career. I wasn’t used to that feeling of being in the gym, doing rehabilitation day in, day out, so I’m glad to be back on the pitch, to be back with the boys and be back with Bristol City.

Can you tell us more about the injury and what you’ve been through on your road to recovery?

My injury flared up in the Leeds United defeat. I felt it when I tried to change direction after 20 minutes or so into the game; there was something not right in my knee but with all the adrenaline inside me I didn’t really feel the pain. It wasn’t until after the game when I was in the shower that my knee hurt a lot and the next day I couldn’t straighten my leg, it was locked. I went to Germany to see a surgeon who I trusted and knows about knee surgery, even though that route meant I would be out for a while.

It was the perfect return for you though, contributing to a clean sheet in a game where City won all three points against Ipswich Town

The gaffer asked me the day before the game if I would be ready to come on from the bench if needed. With Aden (Flint) and Joe (Bryan) suspended and Bakes (Nathan Baker) injured we were short on defenders, so I agreed to sit on the bench, even though it was a bit too early for me. All of a sudden, Hordur (Magnusson) got injured so I had no time to think about it! I just had to get my kit on, get on the pitch and do my best for the time that was remaining. I’m pleased that we got through it and won the game.

Talk to me about your versatility as a player

I’ve played in almost every position! I don’t think I have started as a goalkeeper or in the number nine role but I began my career higher up the pitch because I was good with the ball. I played in central midfield, on the wings, in the number ten position and that’s when I scored that free kick for Bayer Leverkusen against Real Sociedad. It’s hard to believe I was in that position because now I play as a centre-back!

Where does that free kick in the UEFA Champions League rank in terms of your favourite goals?

I’d say it’s probably the best one for me. There was another good one but that free kick against Real Sociedad was the most important because it won us the game in the 92nd minute! I had been out for a few weeks with a muscle injury and it was my first game back, so to take the free kick to win us the Champions League game was a great feeling. Maybe it was meant to be that I was to take that free kick! (laughs).

Pick up today's WellRed matchday programme for the full interview, in which Jens also discusses a potential winter break and reflects on his career in Germany.

It is sold around Ashton Gate for just £3.