Lee Cook was at Loftus Road yesterday, as hundreds of young Rs` fans showed up, despite the freezing cold conditions, to enjoy a couple of different hours. The fans watched the players go through a training session with new management team, Paul Hart and Mick Harford. This was followed by an autograph/photograph session. And all this was interspersed with face-painting, playing against QPR staff on a Wii, joking with Sparks and becoming journalists for a while, as they put Mikele Leigertwood and Fitz Hall through a torrent of questions.
All this – on Family Fun Day – and even a chance to see Akos Buzsaky – the midfield maestro who has, wittingly or unwittingly, been at the heart of the turbulence which recently hit Loftus Road – return to training after missing a couple of games with a medial ligament injury.
But back to Lee Cook. The tricky winger, who has been plagued by injuries since leaving us for Fulham back in the day, is now back to full training. He participated in the open training session on an ice and snow-free Loftus Road pitch, sporting fetching woolly blue hat and designer stubble! Fearing that the Family Fun Day may have had to have been called off because of the weather, Cook paid tribute to the fans who turned out to participate in what he described as “a magical day.
“Fair play to all these people who have turned up; it shows how much they care about this Club. They`re great supporters.”
Cook acknowledged how much fun the players themselves have, interacting with the fans, particularly the kids. He proudly showed off a large bundle of Christmas cards which one enterprising young boy gave Cookie to hand to all the squad. Cook really had studied the envelope with his own name on it thoroughly – as he was able to observe that the kid had drawn two eyes in the “double o`s” of his surname!
The kids` eyes sparkled with joy – it was a really warming pre-Christmas gift, particularly when they were able to chat to, and be photographed with, their favourite players like Wayne Routledge (even if they were too shy to admit it!) or Fitz Hall (yes, he is a favourite with one young lad who left Loftus Road with not just an autograph, but Hall`s gloves as well!)
But for one older child, namely a certain Lee Cook, there were just as happy, sparkling eyes as he admitted that today he had trained with the First Team squad for the very first time this season!
“My first full training session today. Great to be back out there, getting involved in everything, playing a little game we had there, crossing and finishing. And it`s great to be out there,” he enthused.
“I saw the surgeon last week and he said it couldn`t have gone any better. The injury`s healed perfectly. Last week, my whole family were over the moon. It`s great to be back training and hopefully it won`t be too long now!” he added.
“It`s been terrible. It`s been tough,” Cook admitted of the last 6 months as he`s struggled with this injury.
“To get through it and get out there today, and just doing the normal things that a footballer`s supposed to do! We don`t like being in a gym! That`s not what we like doing, we like plying our trade.
“To be back out there now – fantastic! It`s been a difficult six and half months. But hopefully, I`ve had an end to my injuries now and hopefully a Reserve game coming up in the next couple of weeks and I`ll take it from there.”
Cook is pleased with the timing of his comeback, as Paul Hart has acknowledged that all players will have a fresh opportunity to impress his new management team. Cook saw Hart`s interview in which he made this promise to his squad: “That includes me so all I`ve got to do is try and impress the gaffer. I`ve every confidence I can do that, so we`ll see what happens!” he beamed excitedly.
See – Christmas isn`t just for kids. And there is no reason why grown-ups can`t ask Father Christmas for something close to their Harts – sorry, I mean hearts!
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