HE MAY have broken his legs an incredible five times but former Crystal Palace midfielder Richard Howell insists his injury problems are behind him as he embarks on a new chapter in his career at AFC Sudbury.
The 28-year-old winger, who is also adept at playing in the hole behind the front two, has returned to the club where he spent a loan spell from Bishop’s Stortford in 2008 - and can’t wait to get started.
“People read about the broken legs and must think I am made of glass but everything is fine now and it was one of those freak things, so they (the supporters) have nothing to worry about, I am fit and ready to go,” he said.
The former West Ham United Academy player, who turned professional at London neighbours Crystal Palace, said that four of the breaks were a recurring one of his fibula while at The Eagles as he tried to rush back too quickly.
But after he did get himself fit again he broke his other leg, forcing him to take nine months off before rebuilding his career in non-League with, first Stevenage Borough, then Bishop’s Stortford, where he spent five years, before two seasons with Hitchin Town, who he helped to promotion from the Southern League Division One Central last term.
And after completing two 90 minutes in pre-season - including Tuesday’s 2-1 win at FC Clacton - he is desperate to make an instant impression under Smith at AFC Sudbury, after a house move to Dunmow and a chance meeting at a shopping centre with assistant Chris Tracey sealed a move to the Yellows.
Howell, who had been offered a new deal at promoted Hitchin, which he turned down added: “I know Nicky is really geared up for having a successful season hitting the play-offs and I cannot see why that will not happen.”
Howell describes himself as good in the air and always looking for a killer ball to become the king of the assists.
l AFC Sudbury are in action at Aveley on Saturday (3pm) after Friday’s game at rivals Bury Town was cancelled due to the effects of pre-season on the Ram Meadow pitch.