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Leg-break horror left me in tears; LEDLEY TELLS OF BATTLE TO KEEP DREAMS ALIVE.

Byline: JAMES NURSEY

JOE LEDLEY broke down in tears when convinced his Euro 2016 dream was over.

But having made an amazing recovery from a broken leg, he now feels like an "excited schoolboy".

The Crystal Palace midfielder came off injured against Stoke (above) on May 7 in the Eagles' penultimate league game.

An X-ray 48 hours later showed he had suffered a hairline fracture of his fibula, which ruled him out of the FA Cup Final against Manchester United at Wembley.

He also feared the worst for his dream of representing Wales at their first major finals since 1958 after playing a key role in qualifying.

Ledley admitted: "When I first did it, I thought I didn't break my leg. Then, two days later, I had the X-ray and it was fractured.

"I thought that was game over as it was only three weeks before the squad was going to be named.

"I did shed a tear because I had worked my socks off and been in every single qualification game. I wanted to be part of that squad after making the first tournament for 50-odd years."

But all Ledley's intensive recovery efforts, which included using an oxygen chamber and a special machine to stimulate bone repair, have paid off.

He returned as a 69th-minute sub against Slovakia to swing the game back in Wales' favour as he helped assist Hal Robson-Kanu's late winner. After winning his 62nd cap, Ledley reflected: "I was excited and emotional - it was like playing football in school again - it was one of the best feelings."

Ledley admits he is indebted to Palace's physio Sean Connolly, who is also Wales' head physio and was at Cardiff previously with the midfielder.

Ledley added: "Everything I had to do, supplements, whatever I could do to make my body better I did and positive thinking helped.

"I went in an oxygen chamber for the first two weeks - I left my house at 6am to be there for 7am for an hour and 45 minutes.

"But I then used an Exogen machine, which created the bone cells quicker, for 20 minutes before bed.

"After a week of hard work in the oxygen chamber, getting cells back, I got belief from there. Everything just fell into place. The physio believed in me and you could see the bone developing.

"Without him I don't think I would be here now."

And Ledley says he is fit to start against England, adding: "If we win, we qualify for the last 16."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 15, 2016
Words:420
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