Frank interview with United defender Ben Parker...
United defender Ben Parker has moved to thank the club's medical department after admitting he considered quitting the game due to injury.
The 24-year has started just four games since suffering a hip injury against Exeter City at Elland Road in August 2009, and he has undergone a series of operations and a number of halted comebacks.
The latest comeback started a couple of weeks ago when Ben played in a youthful side in a friendly match at York City and he has since played in a reserve game and as an over-age player in an under-21 match.
Ben admits he is only taking the first steps, but the former Academy product was quick to thank the physios for ensuring he was able to pull on a white shirt again.
"It's been like a roller coaster this last two and a bit years," he said.
"It got to the point where I considered not playing again, but thanks to Harvey Sharman and the physios. I can't pay enough respect to what they have done for me.
"I was in Harvey's office one day, crying my eyes out, saying I was getting nowhere, but thankfully he was there to support me and dragged me through these difficult times."
Ben's injury complications started with a hip problem, but the youngster has undergone an unenviable period of combating one injury after another.
"I was always coming back and getting a niggle and it was hard to get into a rhythm," he explained.
"That was the hardest thing, the mental side. With my last injury I just kept breaking down and it got to the point where I thought 'is it ever going to be right and fixed?' but the physios have been brilliant with me.
"It's been like a domino effect. It started with my hips, then my back, then it got my Achilles, hamstring, groin…it really has been one thing after another.
"You could never put your finger on it and deal with it because up until the past few months there's always been something niggling me."
Ben is out of contract with the club in the summer and is acutely aware that after over two years on the sidelines, he has had no real opportunity to prove himself in terms of earning a new contract.
"I'm just grateful to be playing football again if I'm being honest," said Ben.
"I am at Leeds United and that's what I want. Hopefully in the summer I will be sitting down talking about a new contract with Leeds United, but I know I've been out two and half years now.
"There's not many people can come back and stay at a level where Leeds are, wanting to go back to the Premiership, so I know deep down I've got to try the hardest I've ever tried and if I can earn a contract with Leeds that would be brilliant, but I just want to be involved in football.
"I've missed so much football now, it's my job, and that's what I want to do."
The manager, the physios, and the player have all been quick to stress that Ben is only taking his first steps once again, and is still some way off competing for a place in the United side.
But, with the prospect of more reserve games and increased game time, the player admits that a new year loan move could provide that platform that he needs.
"I have trained now and played a couple of games," he said. "People have said I look a yard sharper or fitter and that's brilliant.
"I know I'm a long way off where I can be, but the main thing is I am back playing again when a couple of months ago it didn't look like I would be.
"I need to go out on loan, to prove to myself that I play games without getting any injury and show the football world I'm still here and can play."