Charlie Taylor’s experience of glandular fever has been both a frustration and a relief; frustrating in the sense of the games it has cost him but a relief in the knowledge that the symptoms could have been worse.
The illness is debilitating and the fatigue it causes can last for up to a year.
Taylor read about it after his own diagnosis last month and is honest enough to realise that a return to training after six weeks is nothing like the worst-case scenario.
That fact notwithstanding, the 22-year-old is rightly aggrieved that his place in Leeds United’s team was lost in this way.
Taylor completed every minute of the season up to the end of a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City on October 3.
Uwe Rosler, United’s former head coach, described him as “a machine” and it seemed that only injury or illness would force aside Taylor.
The left-back struggled in the days before the game against Birmingham, but started anyway, convinced that he could run his way through the virus.
“Straight after the Middlesbrough game, I felt ill and all week leading up to Birmingham I wasn’t great,” said Taylor.
“Ten minutes into the Birmingham game, all my energy was zapped out of me. I thought ‘something’s not right here’. I had blood tests straight after on the Monday and found out I’d got glandular fever.
“I’d played in every minute up to Birmingham and I wanted to carry on so I didn’t really mention the fatigue to anyone.
“Obviously I had no idea what was actually wrong but early on in the Birmingham game I went on a forward run and felt absolutely knackered.
“The tests came back and it was pretty much the worst possible outcome.”
Taylor became bed-bound and Rosler ruled him out indefinitely.
Leeds sacked the German one game later, and Rosler’s replacement, Steve Evans, has been unable to use the defender in his five matches in charge.
Taylor began light training last week, however, and is likely to begin ball-work before Saturday’s game against Rotherham United.
“After the tests came back, I read up about the side-effects, as you do,” said Taylor. “The illness and the fatigue can affect people for up to a year and that was a worry. So, in a way, I’m probably quite lucky to be back already and training as soon as this. That doesn’t mean it was nice.
“It’s been frustrating for me. I’d played every game and then to get this and be bed-bound was horrible. I couldn’t really get out of my house. But the hard work starts now. I’m basically doing a mini pre-season to get fit and get back in the team.”
Taylor expects to be available for United’s game against Hull City on December 5.
Evans is more hopeful that the left-back will be available for the visit to Queens Park Rangers a week earlier. Neither of them has given any thought to the idea of Taylor playing against Rotherham this weekend.
“This knocked me for six and took everything out of me,” said Taylor. “I’ve got to build up my strength and my fitness again. It might take some time but, hopefully, I’ll be back soon.
“I’ve had the all-clear now so I’m working with physios and fitness coach, trying to get back to where I was before I got ill.”
Taylor’s stated aim at the beginning of the season was to complete a full campaign for the first time as a Leeds player; to be first-choice from start to finish.
He is still the only recognised left-back in United’s squad, but he returns with a different head coach in charge and Gaetano Berardi filling in capably on the left side of defence.
“I think Steve Evans has brought passion,” said Taylor. “He’s got all the lads up and you’ve seen that in the last two games, with good results and clean sheets. The lads are pumped up and firing.
“They’re wanting to play for him and wanting to win. Everyone’s one big team.”