Exclusive by Scott Binnie:
Injured Stirling Albion striker Bradley Coyne has thanked the fans for their continued support as the ex-Forfar hitman continues to rehabilitate a serious knee injury. He also believes his beleaguered teammates are capable of turning round a so-far torrid campaign.
Bradley tore his cruciate ligament in Stirling’s first league game of the season, a 5-1 home win over Annan Athletic, and has been on the long road to recovery ever since.
Given the nature of his injury, the son of Motherwell and Celtic legend Tommy Coyne refuses to be drawn on when he will be back in action, citing the complexities of ligament damage.
He said: “I haven’t set a particular date (to come back) because there are so many players out there that have had the same injury and it can be nine months, ten months or more. So many players react in different ways and it’s just the way peoples’ bodies work.”
After his initial disappointment in hearing the bad news, Coyne resolved to get to work and ensure a healthy recovery process.
“It was very tough to take, especially when I first found out, but when I had the scan and the operation I just screwed the head and knew I had to work hard, get back fit and come back a better and stronger player.”
Bradley’s side Stirling are propping up the rest of the Third Division and have amassed just seven points from thirteen games this season, crashing out of all three cup competitions in the process as well. Coyne maintains though that his teammates haven’t let their attitudes slip.
“It is difficult to watch the boys go through this poor run of games but in the dressing room they’re still working as hard as they can, I see training every week and the boys are working at 110%. I think it’s just maybe a wee bit of a lack of confidence just now, but I think the guys will react to it because it’s a great bunch of boys containing some great footballers.”
During his rehab Bradley isn’t required to attend Forthbank for every training session, but that is exactly what he has been doing as he strives to remain part of the tight-knit team ethic.
“I come to every training session because I don’t want to be fading away from the team - I want to be a part of the team. I still like to be part of that team ethic even though I’m not fit enough to be a part of the selection pool. All the boys keep me company and make sure I’m part of the team too.”
Player-manager Greig McDonald has suffered severe ligament damage twice in the past and the boss has been providing his crocked star signing with invaluable advice.
“It’s really helped that the gaffer has experience of coming back from the same injury twice. He’s been really good with me; he’s always talking me through what to do. He had it at East Fife and again here, and he came back as a better and stronger player. He is always here if I’ve wanted to have chat with him and he’s there for all the players. Greig’s a really nice guy and a great manager as well.”
McDonald was the first manager to contact Bradley following his release from Forfar, where he had scored five goals in sixteen games, and Coyne says that he made his mind up about his next club right away.
“I had a phone call from the gaffer really early on, pretty much as soon as I left Forfar and to be honest, I was certain to move to Stirling as soon as he phoned me because I know it’s such a good club to be at. I’ve seen players come here and move on to bigger things and do really well, like Robert Snodgrass and so on, because they’ve worked really hard here. Stirling is a really good club to be at, the facilities here are great, and I just really enjoy being at the club.”
Greig McDonald and his assistant Marc McCulloch have often stated that they believe the club are in a false position in the league, with the Binos possessing a squad that, according to them, is worthy of challenging for the top four in the league. When asked about this, Coyne joined his voice to those of the management staff.
“There are boys in the team that are really good players and we’re definitely not doing as well as we should be. Having played in the Second and Third Division, I know for a fact that there are players in this team that are head and shoulders above most of the players I’ve played with or against.”
The importance of Coyne to the manager’s original plans for this season has been obvious since his injury, with two replacements drafted in in Jordan White and Steven Weir. McDonald clearly viewed Bradley as his first choice striker and the player himself hopes to get his chance to prove his boss correct, whilst at the same time thanking the fans for their continued backing.
“I really enjoy being part of the club and I have had some excellent support from the fans on Twitter and things as well. I really want to show my dedication to the club by getting back to my best and proving myself as the number one striker at this club.”