Sean Davis has revealed how knee injections early in his career probably contributed to his early retirement at Bolton Wanderers.
The midfielder was signed on a free transfer from Portsmouth in the summer of 2009 to be the fulcrum of Gary Megson’s midfield at the Reebok.
The deal was hailed as a coup for the club – who had bid more than £3million to take him from Fratton Park the previous winter – but despite a promising pre-season, he went on to play just four games.
A red card against Liverpool in what proved his final outing for Bolton was followed by a complex knee injury which required several months of rehab.
Speaking to The News in Portsmouth, Davis admits his final season on the South Coast had been plagued by knee issues – which came to a head soon after his arrival in the North West.
He said: “I played with a swollen knee all the time at Pompey, I would have injections to get me through. It was horrendous.
“My knee was really bad during that last season at Fratton Park, it was hard work just to get out there. The adrenaline would push me through the game, but the next couple of days I was struggling to walk.
“I played 40 games that year, which was testing on the knee. Then I joined Bolton and it seemed to completely go after four matches.
“Not knowing my body well enough forced me to retire early. I just wanted to play. I didn’t manage my knee in the right way and it affected me later in my career.”
Davis was critical of some of the choices made during his rehab at Bolton – and advised Stu Holden to return to the US for treatment when he was struck down by ligament damage in 2012.
He said that summer: “I don’t live with regrets, and I don’t regret my time at Bolton – I’m just not that sort of person. But the one thing I would have changed is that I would have done my rehab elsewhere. I don’t think the medical team were experienced enough with my injury to have helped me get through it and back to a good condition.
“I eventually saw a doctor called Jay Rodrigo, who was fantastic, and I feel if I’d seen him earlier things might have been different.
“With that in mind, I have managed to help certain players with a bit of advice and I did tell Stuart to go and get his rehab back home.”
But he admits problems first surfaced when he moved from Fulham to Tottenham several years earlier.
“I first got the knee injury at Spurs, that’s where I probably did the most damage,” he said. “Most of my Spurs games involved having cortisone injections, with the manager telling me how he needed me to play.
“At Pompey, some days it was hard to turn, it was painful. The warm-ups were always bad, but once the game got going you could get through it.
“It’s always in my head that if I’d never had that injury, how far could I have gone? The injury was always at the back of my mind, it played a massive part mentally.
“There were injections, sometimes on the day of the game, sometimes the day before, just to drain out all the fluid.
“The cortisone injection sweeps everything under the carpet. Maybe you can use it to play in a cup final, I’d agree to that.
“But if it’s going to affect you long term, it’s not great.”
When Davis left Pompey in the summer of 2009, the club had been forced to sell several top stars such as Peter Crouch, Sylvain Distin, Glen Johnson and Niko Kranjčar.
Tony Adams had initially convinced him to stay when Bolton first approached – and Davis regrets that the lack of finances made him look elsewhere in the end.
He added: “I once had a little chat with Paul Hart about a new contract, but nothing was ever concrete.
“I would have stayed at Pompey if one had been offered and was what I wanted. I was probably one of the lowest earners at the time too.
“I don't think negotiating would have been a massive issue but, with the financial situation, the writing was on the wall for me.
“It was a sad time, to be honest.”
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