Former Ipswich Town academy player, Byron Lawrence, says he believes he 'will get fit and play again.'

Lawrence, 26, who joined Town as a 14-year-old and made one substitute appearance for the Blues against Doncaster in 2012 aged just 16 and 47 days - the third youngest Town player ever - suffered a broken fibula, fractured tibia and dislocated ankle, in a horror injury while playing for Needham Market last November.

Almost a year on, Lawrence has spoken openly about his hopes for the future, the journey of recovery he is still on, the positivity in his head, but the realistic nature of his injury.

"I'm remaining positive," he said.

"I had an operation about a month ago and I'm slowly improving my ankle. Things are moving forward. The operation came about because back in March I was told there was a lot of stuff still in and around the ankle - bone, scar tissue. It needed a clean up.

"The operation was successful and now I'm working on my walking because although I was able to walk before the op, I'm working on it again to the point where the ankle will flex with no pain.

"Every day the ankle feels slightly better, which is good. So, hopefully within the next few weeks I'll be walking with no problems."

However, Lawrence, a tenacious midfielder with an eye for goal, who joined Colchester United after leaving Town before heading into non-league, remains realistic.

"I could work my hardest over the next few months, next six months and I may not get back on the pitch," he said. "I'm realistic enough to know that.

"But I also know I could be back on that pitch. And that is my goal. But it will need a lot of work to get to that point. And that's all that matters in my head, that I can get back playing and I'm going to do all I can to play football again.

"There's no guarantee I will play again, I know that. But it is an injury others have come back from. I know I have a chance."

Lawrence's injury was suffered during a game against Peterborough Sports, while playing for Needham in a Southern League Premier Division clash. The game was abandoned as a result at the time.

It has been, and still remains, a long road back, but he's had huge support around him, including being able to go to St George's Park, England's FA's national centre, for treatment.

"If you've been a professional player for more than a year, then you are a member of the PFA for life," he added.

"The PFA paid for my surgery and I can have a maximum of four weeks treatment there. I had a week in March which was helpful because it made me realise I needed this second operation, which I've just had.

"As soon as my ankle is more flexible and I can jog a bit, it will be worth me going there again."

And it is not just the PFA Lawrence is quick to praise.

"I've had so much help, especially at Needham Market," he said. "The physios there, Ian Jenkins and Bex Easy are always available, the club have been so good to me. And many other people too, Suffolk FA, and so many fans. On the day of the injury the SARS team, air ambulance and Ipswich Hospital staff. When I reflect back, if it wasn't for all of them, it could have been a lot worse."

Since that awful afternoon, Needham have retained the No.4 shirt in preparation for Lawrence's return. The first team use the No.14 instead.

For now, he is doing plenty of exercises at home. He's able to drive and gets along to some Needham games. But playing the game again, getting out on that pitch, scoring goals, making tackles, is in his heart and where he wants to be once more.

"I'll do everything I can to get back on the pitch," he said.

"I believe I will get fit and play again. I've always been a happy player out on the pitch. And if I make it back, I'll be forever grateful for every game I play."