Jem on long awaited return to actionRoyals skipper Jem Karacan tried to put into words what it meant to him to make his return to first team action at Madejski Stadium this afternoon.
"It was an unbelievable feeling," he told Reading FC Player after his late cameo in a goalless draw with Middlesbrough. "It’s been a long time coming for myself, my family and everyone who has supported me over the last year and a bit.
"It’s been a whirlwind. It felt like it was never going to come around. I’ve had three operations. It’s been horrible.
"But all those tough times, all the hard work with the physio Luke and his team – who have all been unbelievable with me - it was all worth it just to get back out there on the pitch and make my comeback here at Madejski Stadium."
Karacan's last first team action came against Leeds United on 18th September 2013 when he suffered knee injuries that have sidelined him ever since, but after making the substitutes' bench in the cup win at Huddersfield last weekend, the club captain was introduced for Jamie Mackie in the dying stages of today's stalemate.
"I’ve still got a long way to go," Jem continued. "I’ve got to work on the strength of the knee still and it won’t be until six months to a year, maybe further down the line where I can be happy that I won’t have any more setbacks and I can go on to enjoy a good career.
"It’s been tough, especially being captain, and not being out there, but being skipper has kept me in and around the lads and made me feel part of the team.
"I just want to get as many minutes on the pitch now. I want to start on Saturday, of course but it’s up to the gaffer when he feels I’m ready. I’m back training every day now, and I think I’ll play in the under-21s on Monday and maybe get an hour under my belt and go from there.
"It’s one thing coming back to fitness but it’s another fighting for you shirt. But I’m up for the challenge. Olly, Danny and Guths - the boys are doing great at the minute. Hope is coming back to fitness too, so there’s plenty of competition from a strong midfield department. I just have to fight for my shirt and hopefully when I get back, I can stay in the team."