Young Guns: Tom Beadling

by Stuart Vose

Young defender firing again after 11-month absence.

Young defender Tom Beadling could have been working his way towards Australia’s A-League had a childhood move Down Under turned out to be a permanent one.

Beadling, who is a first-year scholar at the Academy of Light, initially left Sunderland’s Academy at the age of 10 to emigrate to the other side of the world with his family.

It’s strange to think that things could have worked out totally differently

- Tom Beadling

But a holiday trip back to the UK two years later turned into a permanent stay – and the rest is history as the talented youngster looks to forge a path towards Sunderland’s first-team ranks.

“I played in a local league for Plains Farm before joining the development centre and then the Academy itself when I was eight,” the budding centre-back said.

“Then we moved to Australia and I was there for two years. We came back [to the UK] on holiday and didn’t plan to stay, but we ended up remaining here.

“It’s strange to think that things could have worked out totally differently.”

Beadling, who gained Australian citizenship via his father, played regularly while in Australia and even captained the national under-13 side at a prestigious tournament in Malaysia.

But there was still an adjustment period to go through when he returned to the Academy.

“It was strange coming back and getting used to the pace of the game over here, so it took me a while to readjust,” he explained.

I went for a scan and they told me I had a double fracture of the spine

- Beadling on injury nightmare

“But once I got back into it, it wasn’t a big problem and obviously I knew all the lads and the coaching staff already.”

Progress through the Academy system was swift, but there was a huge setback to come in December 2011.

Beadling reported pain in his back, but he surely couldn’t have expected the diagnosis.

“My back was stiff and getting progressively worse, so I went for a scan and they told me I had a double fracture of the spine,” he explained.

He would miss a total of 11 months of action, including the start of his scholarship which began in summer 2012.

Beadling added: “I was worried it might cause a problem and I ended up out for almost a year, which was a nightmare.

“It was hard when the scholarship started because all the other lads were getting into it and going out training, and I was stuck inside.”

Beadling spent around six weeks wearing a full-torso plaster cast which severely restricted his movement.

Then the rehab began in earnest under the watchful eye of the club’s medical team.

Beadling saw his youth-team colleagues begin their league campaign while he battled away in the gym.

“I knew I had to be patient,” he said. “Knowing I’d get back at the end of it was what kept me going.

“My focus was on working hard because I knew I could overcome it.

“The medical staff were great with me and without them I wouldn’t be back where I am now. I owe them a lot and I am really grateful.”

But the defender never lost faith and was rewarded with a first outing of the season last month.

His opening game of the campaign ended in a comfortable victory at Wolves and capped a remarkable comeback for the youngster, who also recently won a hard-earned call-up to Kevin Ball’s under-21 squad.

Now he’s using his experiences out injured to help push on over the remainder of the season and into the 2013-14 campaign.

“My first game was a 4-1 win, so I was delighted with that and it’s been good to be involved with the under-21s, too,” he said.

“I think the injury gave me extra motivation. During all that time sat inside, I was telling myself I needed to push harder when I came back and I have done that.

“Now I want to play as much as I can over the remainder of the season, try and win some games and keep pushing.”