Striker Sam Vokes admitted his goal against Spurs “means the world to me” after nine months out injured.
Vokes netted 13 minutes after replacing Ashley Barnes at Turf Moor on Monday night to earn a replay at White Hart Lane.
It was only his second appearance after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament late last season, but he announced his return with a tidy finish, and he beamed: “It means the world to me, it puts nine months’ work into perspective. It was agreat feeling to get back out there and score.
“The lads were great, they all congratulated me and there were a few nice comments after.
“It’s all a bit of blur.
“I was a bit gutted over the Christmas period, getting on against Liverpool before picking up a chest infection, so it was great to get back out there and get the goal.
“I’ve only had a couple of sessions in me since the illness, which knocked me back a little bit, but I got a good half hour.”
He added: “It means a lot, all that work in the gym pays off.
“I’ve got to thank all the staff behind the scenes, from the physios and sports scientists who have put a lot of hours and hard work in with my rehab, because it has been a long course, and I’d like to think it’s all worthwhile.”
Unfortunately, as Vokes returns, kevin Long has suffered a similar injury, and the big Wales frontman admitted it was a hammer blow: “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, it’s horrible, and when you get that phonecall - I remember where I was, and it’s not nice.
“I spoke to him the night he got the news and talked him through it.
“It’s a tough one to take, but it’s a strange kind of mentality, you get your head around it as soon as you find out, and get the information - it’s going to be a nine-month thing and you try and crack on.
“I wish him all the best.
“He’s a very positive guy and I’ll help him along as much as I can.”
Vokes received a lot of support and advice, and he intends to impart as much of that as he can: “I spoke to a lot of people who have come through that injury - 15-20 years ago you’re lucky to get back out onto the pitch.
“You look for inspirational stories, and there are a lot out there now, so all the best for Longy, I’m sure he’ll come back a lot stronger.”
Former Claret Jay Rodriguez was injured a couple of weeks after Vokes, and has recently suffered a setback in his comeback plans, but Vokes is also confident he will be back soon: “I spoke to him in the week, he was here for the Liverpool game and he’s struggling a bit with his knee, but he’s another strong character and I’m sure he’ll come through it.”
In Vokes’ absence, Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings have netted nine goals between them, but he hopes his strike puts him back in the manager’s thoughts: “Barnesy and Ingsy have been fantastic up front, and it’s only good for the team that the strikers are scoring goals, it’s good for competition and nice to get one myself.
“Hopefully I’ve given the manager a selection problem, but you can’t take things for granted, the boys have been fantastic up front, and hopefully I’ll take my chance when it comes.”