Mace Goodridge is on his way back as he looks to resume his upward trajectory at Turf Moor.
The teenage midfielder made a big impression after becoming a Claret last summer – figuring in part of the first-team’s pre-season schedule.
He then started the season as an emerging force in the Under-23s before a cruciate knee ligament injury cruelly ended his campaign and required surgery last November.
The 19-year-old admitted it had been a tough pill to swallow but has recovered from knock-backs before in a fledgling career that has already seen him experience Academy football with Premier League rivals Manchester City and Newcastle United.
“I was at Manchester City from a young age and ended up on not getting my scholarship at City at 16, which was one of the first major set-backs I had to deal with,” Goodridge explained.
“I bounced back from that and ended up getting quite a few scholarship offers.
“I decided to take one at Newcastle and I quite enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t really get many opportunities to progress and I found it quite hard living away from home.
“I didn’t get another contract at Newcastle, so that was another set-back. Then the first club I came to on trial was Burnley and I felt at home straight away and felt I really settled in and that’s brought me to where I am today.”
It was after a handful of impressive performances as a trialist in the Clarets’ U23s that Goodridge was offered a professional contract by Burnley last summer.
And before long he was starting a pre-season game at Curzon Ashton alongside half of the Clarets’ first-team squad before coming off the bench against Preston, Montpellier and Espanyol as boss Sean Dyche juggled his resources ahead of a Europa League campaign.
“It was very unexpected, especially after being released from Newcastle,” Goodridge admitted.
“It just goes to show anything can happen. I was originally on the bench (at Curzon) and I think Aiden O’Neill got injured.
“I ended up coming into the starting line-up and I think I took my chance quite well and I ended up playing a few more games after that.”
Goodridge was then starting to build up a commanding midfield partnership with fellow new recruit Josh Benson in the Professional Development League when injury struck.
The Manchester-based schemer hasn’t kicked a ball in anger since.
But the hard work hasn’t stopped.
And after putting in the hours away from the public eye, Goodridge is well on the way to recovery as he continues his rehabilitation with the Academy’s physio and sport science staff.
“I was flying when I picked up the injury and it took a while for it to sink in and understand the process I had to go through and how long it’s going to take,” he added.
“It started kicking in when I was in the gym on my own, watching the lads out there, and even after the operation, not being able to walk properly.
“It was a hard path. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I have come a long way – definitely.
“It feels better being around the lads, being out on the pitch and being involved in the warm-ups and passing drills, just to get comfortable on the ball.
“I just need to wait for my knee to keep healing and get stronger.”
A big figure in the squad, Goodridge is out in Poland this week as part of the Under-23s’ training camp under Steve Stone.
Following a family bereavement, he was determined to be part of it by catching a later flight out to Poznan.
“Because I haven’t been around the lads and the coaching staff for such a long time and just the general environment, I wanted to get back in as soon as possible and see what it’s like,” he said.
His presence certainly adds to the group. And when he makes it back onto the pitch, it will be welcome return for a determined young player looking to resume his quest to make the grade as a first-team performer.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. Coping with these set-backs over and over again is making me stronger as a person and making my character better,” Goodridge said.
“I’ve had a bit of taste training with them (the first team) and playing a few games and that’s definitely where I want to be.
“I know it will take a few games to get my confidence back and get back to where I was, which is where I want to be.
“I have been speaking to Steve and he’s told me it’s a long season; the team that starts the season never really finishes it, so not to get too focused on starting the season.
“When I’m ready that’s when it will be time to come back in.”