Andreas Bjelland believes he has to become more of a leader at Griffin Park next year after completing his comeback season from serious injury.
The Danish defender suffered a knee ligament injury in August 2015 which kept him out of competitive action for 13 months before a return in September last season. After initially feeling his way back into the team after such a long time out, Andreas was pleased with the progress he made and how the season panned out.
“It has been good coming back from a big injury,” said Andreas, speaking to iFollow before the players went away for the summer. “You always wonder, when coming back with a knee that’s had a lot done to it, how it will cope playing football again. This year has been important for me to prove to myself and my body that it could stand that. That was been good. The start of the season wasn’t good for me, picking up a small injury, but you always get bumps on the road like that. If I look back at the end of the season, having played 29 games, then it has been ok. I wanted to play a full season but I can’t complain.”
The 28-year-old is one of the senior members in a squad at Griffin Park which had the second youngest average age in the second tier last season. Now that he is back fully fit and doesn’t have to worry about his body, Andreas is keen to push on and fulfil his leader’s role next season as The Bees push for a top six finish.
“My role next year has to be even bigger, having played for a year in the Championship and feeling that the body is ready,” said Andreas. “I have to grow into that role and become even more of a leader in a team which has a lot of young players. A lot of the players showed that even though they are young they can do it in the Championship. Now it is about growing, both as individuals and as a team, and keeping the group together. We have shown that we can play good football against the good teams but we also need to show we can do it against the lower teams.”
After missing out on so much football Andreas admitted it was a great feeling to step back on the pitch when his return came in September. As well as returning to domestic football, Andreas also earned his 22nd and 23rd caps for Denmark late last year which was another key step for him on his recovery process.
When asked about his memories from the season, Andreas said: “For me coming back against Brighton and Hove Albion stands out. Even though I was playing at left-back and playing against probably the best winger in the league in Anthony Knockaert it was a great feeling to be back playing football at that level. When you win 2-0 it feels even better. Also, beating Aston Villa 3-0 and playing the football that we did was a good feeling as well. Of course, seeing Peter Gilham after we beat QPR away 2-0 was a great one for the team. It was a goal for me to be back with the national team and to prove to myself that I could play at the national level. I got a game in November playing in Copenhagen so on an international front it has been ok and good to prove to myself that I can still play at that level.”