Published: 00:00, 01 March 2019
Matt Walker says Ivan Thomas is working 'like a machine' to make sure his return from knee surgery is as swift as possible.
Thomas was a key member of Kent's red-ball attack last season but tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a net session before the Specsavers County Championship game against Glamorgan at Canterbury last September.
The 27-year-old was expected miss six to nine months of cricket after undergoing reconstruction surgery but Walker says he's never seen anyone so determined to come back sooner.
The 6ft 4in fast bowler has battled back from serious setbacks before, overcoming a triple stress fracture of his back as well as a heart problem which resulted in minor surgery to correct a irregular heartbeat discovered after a routine screening.
Head coach Walker said: "Ivan is doing brilliantly, he's had two potentially career-ending situations with injury and illness so to have this thrown upon him was a real kick in the teeth but he's been so positive throughout the whole process.
"I'm sure he's had his dark moments but with us he's always smiling, always positive.
"He's working his socks off in the gym and he's looking like a machine, he's completely focused and training so hard.
"When you have a serious injury like this it's often how you deal with it mentally as much as anything else but from the word go he was determined to come back quicker than anyone else has from this type of injury.
"He wants to come back stronger, better and while obviously we don't want to jump the gun I wouldn't back against him being back sooner than we thought."
Greenwich-born Thomas played 11 of Kent's 14 championship matches as they won promotion to Division 1 last season, taking 24 wickets at an average of 26.25.
That return included career-best match figures of 9-126 against Leicestershire at Grace Road in August. He also played four Vitality Blast T20 games.
The county showed their faith in his ability by awarding him a two-year contract extension in November, taking him through to 2020, by which time it will have been eight years since his Kent debut.
Walker says the county certainly won't rush him back adding: "Last season was a significant one for Ivan, he got into the team and never looked back.
"It would have been great for him to have followed that up this year but I've no doubts he's going to come back better for this.
"We've rolled him on another year which shows we believe in him, and this way there's no pressure on him. He doesn't have to rush back to prove a point."