Bray vows to return a better player
17th November 2014
Alex Bray has vowed to return a stronger and better player as the youngster continues his comeback from a knee injury.
The 19-year-old suffered a ruptured anterior ligament on his Football League debut, just days after signing on loan for League Two side Plymouth Argyle.
Bray - who signed his first professional contract at the Liberty Stadium back in the summer - was initially told he might be out of action for six months, but the winger isn't planning a comeback date just yet.
And after successful surgery in September, the youngster has been working tirelessly with the club's medical team to hit the ground running upon his return.
"It's going really well so far," said Bray. "The surgeon and physios are both pleased with my progress so far, but I can't quite set a date for a comeback just yet.
"Since I've been out injured I have had the chance to improve parts of my game that I might not have been able to otherwise.
"I've been in the gym every day as part of my rehab so I can feel myself getting stronger and improving the physical side.
"Hopefully I can come back that bit quicker and become a better player."
On reflection, it's been an eventful six months for the Wiltshire-born winger.
After a positive season for the Under-21 side, Bray put pen-to-paper on his first professional contract for the club.
And shortly after returning for pre-season training, the youngster was included in the first-team squad for their two-week tour of America.
"That period went really well for me," he recalls. "I didn't expect to be included in first-team training, let alone get the call to go to America.
"I only found out two days before we were due to fly. Kristian (O'Leary) just told me to pack and be ready, and then the gaffer told me that I was coming and to enjoy myself and compete with the other players.
"I was thrilled with that and it gave me a huge boost."
Bray opted for a rendition of 'Hey There Delilah' by the Plain White T's as his initiation song in the States - with the tough crowd on show pleased with the youngster's efforts.
But he was even more delighted to have earned the opportunity to show Garry Monk and his staff what he could do on the pitch.
"I'm not the best singer but it went down pretty well I thought," he joked. "Overall, the two weeks we spent in America were great.
"I got some minutes on the pitch, thought I applied myself well and it was a fantastic experience to be in and around the squad.
"The tempo is so much quicker but it all makes you a better player. Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge were on hand to offer advice to me because they play in the same position and have been young players themselves."
After returning to South Wales, Bray again impressed in a 4-0 friendly victory over Plymouth, as well as featuring against Exeter, Bournemouth and Spanish giants Villarreal.
That led Plymouth boss John Sheridan to take the youngster on loan at the start of the campaign, but disaster struck just 11 minutes after coming off the bench against Luton on his full league debut.
"I was running down the line, checked back inside and then I felt something crunch," he recalls. "I knew then that something wasn't right and that I'd be out for a while.
"I was both gutted and devastated. It was probably the worst thing that could have happened, but I'm determined to come back stronger.
"It wasn't quite how I wanted it to end but injuries are part and parcel of football."
However, Bray looks back at his brief spell at Home Park with fond memories - with the Devon side sending the winger a signed shirt following his injury.
"That was a really nice touch," he said. Something like that just makes me want to work even harder to come back because they showed so much faith in me.
"Plymouth were the club that handed me my Football League debut and I've spoken to the manager and players since then, and they have all been great with me.
"It was a great experience, albeit a brief one. The club suited me perfectly and everyone made me feel really welcome straight away.
"They have a close-knit squad down there, everyone worked hard for one another and I wish them well for the rest of the season."