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Ashford United’s Tom O’Connor boosted by goal as he continues his return from a long lay-off

By Joe Harbert

Ashford United’s Tom O’Connor says he felt overwhelmed to score for the club on Saturday, as he continues his impressive return from a long spell on the sidelines.

The 23-year-old midfielder, who has started just two matches since signing for the Nuts & Bolts in June, has been plagued by knee problems throughout his career.

“Saturday was overwhelming with the amount of time I’ve had out,” O’Connor said.

Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow
Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow

“When you work it all out I’ve been injured for over a season, probably 18 months, so scoring my first goal in that time was such a good feeling personally.

“Sometimes coming back from a long-term injury that’s the kind of boost you need, so I’m hoping that I can now get myself going now by getting a few more goals and some assists as well.”

O’Connor is another player in the Homelands squad to link up with boss Tommy Warrilow again, after playing under him for more than two years at former side Thamesmead Town.

The Dartford outfit folded in October 2018 while both Warrilow and O’Connor were at the club, although the United midfielder would have failed to feature at all competitively last season because of his injuries.

He added: “I left Bromley two years ago to sign for Thamesmead, because I wasn’t really getting the game time I would have liked there, and one of the boys who played under Tommy before recommended me to him.

“But that was when my injuries really started, especially the meniscus in my knee.

“I’ve had a couple of operations on it, and really been focusing on getting that stronger so I can get myself going and not break down anymore.

“I’ve stayed with Tommy too because he’s someone who’s looked after me and also been able to trust in me, so he was a big factor in signing for Ashford.

“Coming in and playing half an hour the other week against Barton Rovers was a chance to repay the faith he’s shown in me.”

O’Connor believes his time off the field has left him determined to hit the ground running for the Kent side.

He said: “I’ve never really been much of a goalscorer, I’ve normally been creating.

“My last season at Thamesmead I ended up assisting about 25 goals in about 35 league games.

“It’s always been a big part of my game, but I would also love to try and get to double digits in terms of goals by the end of the season, especially because once the team gets going during games we look dangerous.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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