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Banks: "I'm already looking forward to the moment"

The 1-0 home win over Eintracht Braunschweig was yet another game Scott Banks was reduced to watching from the stands, having torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture back in September. The Scottish winger is working hard on his return, though, and can hardly wait to get back on the training ground with the rest of the squad.

"It feels good when you're making progress and things are getting better every day, as is the case with me," said an upbeat Scott Banks when he met him at the Kollau training complex last week. "I can see and feel the way my knee is coming on and so I'm doing OK." It was all so different back in September, though, when the Crystal Palace loanee suffered a serious knee injury on only his third appearance in St. Pauli colours at Eintracht Braunschweig. "I knew it was serious right away," he said. "It was extremely painful. It was tough for me when I heard the diagnosis torn cruciate."

The 22-year-old underwent surgery in London a few days later and returned to Hamburg in early November to start work on his rehab. It hasn't been an easy time for him even though he's been making steady progress. "I've had great support from day one, though," Banks adds. "Everyone's had time for me, even if it's been just a quick chat when I'm at the Kollau. It's been really good to know that James Morgan, his team and all the lads are always there for me. That's been very important for me."

Banks, here under challenge from Braunschweig's Anton Donkor, came on as a substitute with 15 minutes left of the reverse fixture in September and sustained a serious knee injury shortly before the final whistle.

Banks, here under challenge from Braunschweig's Anton Donkor, came on as a substitute with 15 minutes left of the reverse fixture in September and sustained a serious knee injury shortly before the final whistle.

Banks has to admit that the situation has also been a frustrating one, however: "I remember one particular day when I was feeling very down and then my phone rang and it was Dapo and Connor asking if I wanted to go for something to eat with them. That cheered me up no end and all the frustration was forgotten. It hasn't been an easy time for me, that's for sure, but little things like that have made it much easier."

The attacking midfielder, who had not suffered a serious injury until that fateful day at Braunschweig, has watched the progress his teammates have been making with mixed feelings. "I'm really happy the team have been playing such fantastic football and doing so well, but it doesn't make it any easier sometimes because I'd love to be an active part of it," said Banks, who makes sure he watches every home game from the stands: "I love the Millerntor and the energy generated by the fans inside the stadium. The fans are outstanding. They make the Millerntor a very special place."

Banks made his one and only appearance at the Millerntor to date in the home game against Magdeburg.

Banks made his one and only appearance at the Millerntor to date in the home game against Magdeburg.

Banks has had just 17 minutes on the Millerntor turf to date, after coming on as a substitute in the scoreless draw against Magdeburg in late August, and is now working hard to add to that total. "It's going well, I've had no setbacks so far," he explains. The next target is return to full training and Banks can hardly wait: "That's sure to be a great feeling and an emotional moment for me after being out for so long. There were days when that moment has seemed so incredibly far away. I still have some way to go but it's not quite as far now. I'm already looking forward to that moment and I'm giving it all I've got to get there."

It remains to be seen just when that moment will arrive, and it's also unclear what will happen in summer when the player's one-year loan from Premier League club Crystal Palace comes to an end. "It's not my decision," said Banks. "The two clubs will have to decide what's best for me. I'll accept the decision, though I will make my views known. It's no secret that I'd like to stay here after this difficult year. I've only played at the Millerntor once for just a few minutes against Magdeburg. I'd be delighted to get a chance to do that more often."

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters

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