Published: 06:00, 23 July 2021
| Updated: 07:58, 23 July 2021
By Henry Clark
Dartford midfielder Luke Allen hopes his injury nightmare is behind him as he prepares to help the club challenge for promotion.
Allen suffered a serious knee injury in December 2019 after making just 19 appearances for the Darts following his arrival from Braintree Town.
After seeing two specialists it emerged that Allen’s injury was more serious than previously feared and that he had completely torn his LCL ligament.
He said: “We saw a specialist and he said I needed an operation but I also went through my private healthcare to see another who was recommended and treats a lot of Premier League players.
“He said ‘No, we’re not going to operate on you’ so it was a bit of a head spinner because I had one specialist telling me I needed an operation and one telling me I didn’t so it was a bit like ‘Who do you believe?’”
After opting against having the operation, Allen spent nearly eight months on the sidelines and watched as the team made a push for promotion.
In that time his rehabilitation programme was largely restricted with gyms closed during the lockdown period.
He said: “It was really tough, especially during the play-off final (against Weymouth). I went down to watch and it was horrible when we lost on penalties.
“It’s never nice being out injured and watching for a long period of time. You’ve just got to try and keep positive and think you’ll be back out there soon.”
Last season, just as the former Cambridge United player began to regain form and fitness, the second national lockdown saw all football below the National League curtailed.
Now the 28-year-old has set lofty ambitions of both himself and the team this season as the Darts look to end their six-year stay outside the National League.
He said: “I always try to get to double figures in terms of goals because I see myself as an attacking midfielder and I think that’s what you’ve got to try and produce for the team.
“In terms of the team, the aim is to try and go one better than we did a couple of years ago, whether that’s through the play-offs or automatically.
“When you look at the squad on paper it’s a fantastic squad and you want that feeling of competition to know that you’ve got to be at the top of your game to keep the shirt.”
Allen says the players are relishing the return of fans to Princes Park and believes they have a big role to play in supporting the team.
He said: “Even the atmosphere they created last Tuesday (in the pre-season game against Sittingbourne) compared to when there were no fans is completely different, you feel a little buzz from them.
“I experienced three or four months with them and they get the place rocking. I can’t wait to hear the fans again and it will definitely give us a little push, especially in the last 20 minutes.”
Dartford host AFC Wimbledon at Princes Park this Saturday (3pm) and then take on newly-promoted EFL side Sutton on Tuesday night (7.45pm).