EXCLUSIVE: Riley keeps brave face on day of knee op as he backs Peterhead for promotion

Peterhead's Nicky Riley
Peterhead's Nicky Riley

Nicky Riley won’t be able to play on Saturday when Peterhead face Edinburgh City on the final day of the League Two season.

But the midfielder hopes the Blue Toon can lift the title and gain promotion to League One.

Riley feels it would go some way to repaying the people at the club for the way they have looked after him since he suffered a long-term injury.

He ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a match against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park on January 30.

Since then he has been thankful for the support he has received from those at Balmoor.

Peterhead have arranged and paid for his operation, which is due to take place today, and made sure he has been looked after on his long road to recovery.

While a club arranging for one of their injured players to have an operation may not seem like much, there are some sides in the lower leagues who don’t treat injured players so well.

Riley said: “I’ve heard some horror stories about getting injuries at part-time clubs.

“That’s a worry for players, it’s different at full-time level because the club and the players are insured.

“For me, I’m lucky in a sense that this injury has happened to me at Peterhead because they look after you.

“It’s not just from my point of view being injured and them sorting the operation out.

“But just general things like people phoning me and asking me how I am helps.

“It’s good to have the support because it’s difficult being injured, especially when it’s a serious injury.

“But having people phoning you and asking how I am and what they can do for me is great.

“You probably wouldn’t even get that kind of support at full-time teams so it’s a credit to Peterhead that they put in that care and attention.

“It makes a difference.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the club, there’s nothing more the club could have done.

“I’ve heard horror stories even at full-time teams with what boys have had to deal with regarding operations and treatment.

“But the club has been brilliant, I’m quite lucky that the club have helped me out this way.”

For Peterhead to win the title on Saturday they need to beat Edinburgh and hope Montrose lose to Elgin.

Riley believes the Gable Endies could slip up and says a title victory would be some reward for the Blue Toon’s directors and behind-the-scenes helpers who run the club.

The 31-year-old added: “The way the club’s run it could be a full-time club with the way the players are looked after.

“The people behind the scenes are the ones that put the work in and make the sacrifices and the manager Jim McInally is part of that.

“It would be great for us and hopefully we can do it.

“We’ve got a lot of points on the board and if we can go up it would definitely be for all the people at the club including the manager. Hopefully we can win and get some luck elsewhere and it would be what the people at the club deserve to get back into League One.

“It’s a game of football, so anything can happen with our result and anything can happen with Montrose.

“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves, and the boys are on a good run of form just now.”

After his operation Riley is facing around nine to 10 months of rehabilitation on his knee.

For many that would be a daunting prospect but he is upbeat about what is ahead of him.

Riley said: “The surgeon has said that being part-time could mean it’s nine to 10 months but I’ve heard of full-time players coming back in six or seven months.

“It could be a year from when the injury happened, but from the surgery I could be looking at nine to 10 months.

“It’s not set in stone that I’ll be back playing in nine to 10 months but it gives you something to aim towards.

“The surgeon said that so I was prepared but I already knew that.

“Hopefully I can get back in that time. But things will happen and it might be quicker, it might be slower. There’s never a good time to do it, but it’s not too bad for me just now.

“I’m a student and I’m not back at university until September so I’ve got May, June, July and August so I’m getting four months where I can go to the gym and my concentration is on rehab.

“Being off uni, it gives me time to get the knee strong and concentrate on the rehab.

“It would be difficult if I was working 9-5, so at least I have the time.

“In September I’ll be back to uni and I’ll be trying to work around that.”