11:30am Saturday 15th October 2011
By Steve Hollis
Dean Howell says he is raring to go after overcoming the first injury setback of his Crawley career.
The defender is lined up to make his comeback against Shrewsbury Town today after sitting out the last six games with a calf problem.
Although Scott Griffiths was a more than able deputy during Howell’s absence the left-back’s return will be a welcome sight for Reds fans who have grown used to seeing him charge up and down the flank over the last 12 months.
The 30-year-old had been a virtual ever-present for the past 12 months since establishing himself in the side last October. He had missed just one league game out of 43 – when he was suspended for the goalless draw at Kettering in February – and had featured in 28 consecutive matches before sitting out the 6-0 defeat at Morecambe last month.
That is a remarkable record in the current era of squad rotation and you could forgive Howell for welcoming the enforced break. The former Halifax defender insists it is quite the opposite however and is looking forward to playing again so he can have a rest!
Howell said: “It is frustrating to miss one game never mind five or six. I should have been back two or three weeks earlier but I was too eager and overdid it.
“I’ve been fortunate with injuries in the past and hopefully I can have another good run without any problems. There is always a bit of luck staying injury free as you are playing games at such an intensity so I suppose it had to come to an end at some point.
“I believe everything happens for a reason though. There is always a cause and effect so maybe this was my body’s way of telling me it was tired and that I needed to take it easy for a while.
“But when you are injured you are in more than when you are fit. I’ve been working from 9am to 4.30pm most days so it will be nice to be back playing so I can chill out a bit more!”
Howell returned to action for the first time in midweek when he played for the reserves in their 4-1 friendly defeat at Colchester United in midweek but there is no danger of him being eased back gently.
Griffiths’ return to Peterborough following his loan spell means Howell will go straight back into the starting line-up against a Shrewsbury side who have won three out of their last four league games to sit fourth in the table.
He added: “I played 60 minutes for the reserves and could have played longer. I’ve been working hard while I’ve been out so I’m confident I’ll be okay if selected.
“It’s not an easy game to come back in to but you have to start somewhere. They are on a good run so it will be tough but we feel we are a match for anyone at home.
“We were top when I got injured and we’re top now I’m fit again so it is all credit to the boys who have come in for doing so well.”
Howell’s return to first team action will also give him the chance to sow the seeds of an unlikely international career.
Both his grandparents on his father’s side are from Jamaica and he intends to talk to Claude Davis about putting in a word for him the next time he links up with the national squad.
Howell said: “First and foremost I need to concentrate on getting fit and playing well for Crawley but I would love to play for Jamaica.
“I’ve got no chance of ever playing for England and it would be great if it happened. It would make my grandparents really proud and I’ve never actually been to Jamaica so it would be nice to put that right too.
“I haven’t played since Claude has been with us so I’ve not had much chance to talk to him about it. I’m not sure what his position is in the Jamaica squad at the moment but if he could put in a word for me that would be great.”
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