Chaplin delight at succeeding in playing Pompey catch up

Conor Chaplin made his full debut against York. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin made his full debut against York. Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Resilliant Chaplin making up for lost time following serious back injury
  • Problem kept him out for four months before winning first pro deal following season

Conor Chaplin has been in a hurry to break into Pompey’s first-team.

Yet even the 18-year-old has been surprised by the galloping progress as he emphatically makes up for lost time.

My absence was caused by a bulging disc in my spine, leaving me in real pain. Coming from being at school only training once or twice a week to taking part in full-time training, it took my body a bit of time to adapt

Conor Chaplin

The Blues forward was last season sidelined for 13 matches and four months by a bulging disc in his spine during a injury-hit first-year scholarship.

As a result, it wouldn’t be until November 23, 2013, before the youngster from Woking was back in action.

Chaplin would end an immensely frustrating campaign with five goals from 14 appearances as he focused on a crucial second term ahead with the Academy.

Against the odds, by October last year he had signed an 18-month deal and come the end of the campaign totalled 32 goals at all levels.

Quite a resurgence from a home-grown youngster forced to play catch up along the journey.

Chaplin said: ‘By the end of this season I wanted to be in and around the first-team, but things have happened for me that I couldn’t even have dreamed of.

‘Last year I had a bad back injury, but all I have ever wanted to be was a footballer and was never going to let a little injury during my first-year scholarship bring me down.

‘I would do anything I can to be a footballer and I work as hard as I can to achieve it.

‘My absence was caused by a bulging disc in my spine, leaving me in real pain.

‘Coming from being at school only training once or twice a week to taking part in full-time training, it took my body a bit of time to adapt.

‘Thankfully I am now adapted and kicking on.

‘I was out of action completely, but got back into training full-time every day, although played only on the weekends towards the end of the season.

‘Then it was a case of working hard through last summer because I knew it’s what I had to do in my second year to get a professional contract.

‘I had about five months playing before getting my pro contract in October, thankfully I was able to impress enough.’

Chaplin was presented with his first Pompey start in last weekend’s final game of the season against York.

Partnering Matt Tubbs up front, it was the youngster’s ninth appearance for the Blues, a period which saw him net a maiden goal at Morecambe.

In addition, last month he was named Apprentice of the Year for League Two at the Football League Awards, capping an improbable season.

Chaplin added: ‘Credit to the physios Sean Duggan and Lucas McArdle who got me through that first year as a scholar, while the coaches at the time still believed in me and played me again afterwards.

‘They showed faith in me and although Andy Awford is not here any more, he gave me my debut and I scored my first goal under him so there’s a lot I owe him.

‘It was also a great honour receiving Apprentice of the Year, everybody at the club have put a lot of effort into me on and off the pitch.

‘There’s Mikey Harris and Mark Kelly, while head of education and welfare Jon Slater is absolutely unbelievable at what he does, and the best there is.’