Tom Cruise has emerged from his rough ride ready to prove worth to Gulls
New Torquay United defender Tom Cruise believes that recovering from a nightmare 18 months of injury worry has given him the mental toughness to realise the potential which once made him one of Arsenal's most promising teenagers.
Less than a year ago Cruise, 21, had to undergo a second painful operation to correct a career-threatening condition called Compartment Syndrome.
"I'd had one operation last April, recovered from that, was training for three or four weeks, but then it came back and I had to have another operation in September," said the former Gunners starlet.
"It was the worst time in my life."
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Compartment Syndrome is a compression of nerves, blood vessels and muscle within a closed space of the body, such as the forearm or lower leg, and Cruise was affected in his calf. It can have serious consequences.
Surgery, in the form of a series of cuts to relieve the pressured areas, is often the only option in bad cases.
"I had it first when I was 16, but it seemed to go and I just got on with my career," said left-back Cruise.
He was a member of Arsenal's FA Youth Cup winning team in 2009, growing up with budding young stars like Jack Wilshere, Henri Lansbury and Emmanuel Frimpong, and even played in a Champions League group match against Olympiakos in Athens
It was during a loan spell with Carlisle United in 2011 that Cruise's fitness problems recurred.
An FA Cup-tie against Torquay at Plainmoor – the Gulls won 1-0 – proved to be the last of eight appearances he made for the Cumbrians.
But, during his time as manager of Leyton Orient, United boss Martin Ling had been impressed by Cruise as a youth player at Arsenal, and he kept track of his progress even through his injury trials.
Now he's offered Cruise the chance to relaunch his career at Plainmoor.
"I've been working hard for nearly three months with a personal trainer, with no problems, and now I've got to prove to everyone that I'm back fit and ready to show what I can do," said Cruise
As United's senior squad prepared for four days next week with the Royal Marines at Plymouth's Stonehouse Barracks, Ling revealed that transfer-listed winger Lloyd Macklin could be about to earn himself a move away from Plainmoor.
Following the release by mutual consent of utility forward Chris McPhee earlier this week, Macklin has joined relegated Conference club Hereford United on trial.