JUNIOR Luamba believes his recent injury lay-off has made him physically and mentally stronger.

The teenager had just scored his first senior goal - a winner away to Sutton United in August - and was looking to kick on after breaking into the first team when his fledgling career was curtailed.

After coming off in the 3-0 defeat at home to Barrow in early September, Luamba was sidelined for three months with a knee problem.

Looking back, he thinks it happened on that landmark day at Sutton.

But after enduring the rehab and overcoming the frustrations at missing a chunk of his first season in professional football Luamba is ready to make up for lost time.

“Scoring at Sutton it was obviously a big goal for me personally. For the team it gave us some much needed points and it was fair to say I was buzzing after it," said the 18-year-old, reflecting on his first league goal.

“But after that period, obviously, things went a bit downhill for myself and I picked up an injury. It’s been a tough period of time.

"Three months is a long time but I just tried to obviously do little bits as much as I can off of the pitch and now it’s great to be back in amongst the lads. Hopefully I can just build from this and get stronger from it. This was a tough period in my career but now I’m looking to push on.

"The time lost on the pitch I’ve managed to use in other ways and speaking to the experienced lads who have been through similar at first it can be worrying but after it you can look back on it with confidence that you’ve done the right thing.

“The rehab plan we had was organised to deal with the muscles in my knee, with it being an important part of your game in football they didn’t want it to be an issue for the rest of my career so fingers crossed I’ve managed to get the knee stronger as a benefit from spending so long out."

But Luamba admitted that while there was a long fitness goal, it was not always plain sailing.

"Mentally I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle. Any injury is a dark period in any player's career," he said, speaking to the Boundary Bulletin.

“A big thing for me was speaking to my family members, having that release from all the emotions that are built up inside and having them listen and offering support was really helpful to take my mind off it when I finished training. It's just about speaking to different people as it really does help a simple thing like that to stop any emotions from building up.

“I just tried to do other things apart from football, obviously, being injured everyone else is training outside. I'm inside by myself most of the time so it can hit you really hard some days but after training it was nice to mix with the lads and being positive and talking through your issues really helps.

"Now I’ve been through it at such a young age I think it will only help me and others going forwards.

“When you get the nod to go back to field based training it’s a huge relief when you’re back playing with the boys. It's a great feeling to be back and having a chance to help the team. Hopefully I can build on this and continue to develop my game as I’m really progressing really fast this season learning new things every day."