Striker hopeful that 'horrible' injuries are now behind him
Returning striker Danny Hylton admitted having some horrible moments during an 11-month injury lay-off he described as the 'toughest time' of his career.
The 30-year-old was back in the Hatters' match-day squad for last night's 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, coming on for the final 22 minutes in place of Harry Cornick.
It was his first outing since March 23, 2019, when Town were a League One side, then facing Doncaster Rovers at Kenilworth Road.
That day, Hylton was on target, netting the third goal of a 4-0 win, before forced off with a knee injury with 11 minutes remaining.
Two operations and 11 months later, he was finally back in a Luton shirt, as describing his extended period away from the game, the former Oxford frontman said: "It started as a standard meniscus cartilage injury and one or two little complications.
“I had to get another one (operation) on the same thing again, just as I was getting back, so we had to start from the beginning again.
“Second time round we had to make sure that the rehab was just back to complete basics, back to walking, just to make sure it was all fine and touch wood’s it all sorted and we can start looking forward now.
“It’s horrible. I’ve never had to experience anything long term before, but we’ve got a great bunch of lads who keep you going, a great atmosphere and got a top medical department.
“They’ve been fantastic with me and left no stone unturned.
"They’ve been so in-detail with the rehab and the treatment I've got, so I'm so thankful to them and just hopefully that's behind me now.
“I was saying to some of the lads today, my last game was Doncaster at home, and if someone said to me, 'there’s going to be 11 months before the next time I played a professional first team game,' I would never have believed it.
“But it happened and I had to get on with it.
"It was a horrible time, the toughest time of my career, but I’m thankful it’s behind me now and I can look to start getting back into the first team and getting fitter and stronger.”
Hylton did make one attempted comeback in pre-season, featuring in the victory over Welwyn Garden City, but was then struck by another complication during the club's warm weather training camp.
He continued: "It was a tough time as I’d just got through pre-season and getting to one of the first games, I thought the first operation was behind me.
"That’s when we flew away the day after and I had to fly back early to come back and see the specialist.
"That’s when he confirmed I needed a second operation so it was a rubbish time, rubbish.
"I'm just glad that it's behind me and I finally made a debut in the Championship.
"It's been a long time coming and more importantly we've got a much-needed win and three points."
It wasn't just Hylton that the injury affected either, as he was eager to thank his family and friends for their support during his spell on the sidelines.
He said: "It’s tough, I’ve been a cr*p husband.
"It’s hard when you can’t do your job basically and I love football, I’m probably the worst person in the world when I’m not playing.
"I’m moody and grumpy, but my family's been great with me.
"My wife was here too. She was so proud and delighted that personally I'm back.
"The staff at the football club has been great with me and you've just got to try and keep positive.
"There’s lonely days, long days and times where you think the worst but you just have to keep staying positive and that's why the people around the club and your family are so important, they get you through it.
“You don't think it’s over but sometimes you always think the worst and especially after the second time, it was a bad time.
"But people, the club, your friends at the club, friends out of football, they get you through it.
"You just have to do it for yourself and say 'I can mope around and be sad or give one thousand per cent and get back from this, nothing's going to beat me.'
"So that's the sort of attitude you've got to take, that’s what I've done.
"But forget me, it was a great night for the club and three much-needed points."
Finally, the forward is determined to show his eldest son just who is the main goalscorer in the Hylton household with 14 games of the Championship season still to play.
He added: "My eldest was here (on Wednesday night), he's nine, he comes to a lot of the games.
"He’s been giving me a little bit of stick, ‘are you ever going to play again?'
"And he's been telling that as he plays football, he's the main goalscorer in the house now, so I've just had to let him have his moment.
"I'm going to have to get back on the scoresheet to let him know!"