Rugby player Matt Wilkes is targeting a return to Ludlow’s first team just three months after being airlifted to hospital with a serious back injury.

The 20-year-old from Sheet Road was told he came within inches of being paralysed after fracturing two vertebrae in his back and compressing another.

Matt had a call from the North Midlands Under-20s, inviting him to play, as he lay in bed recovering from the injury, sustained in October’s match at Stoke.

Matt, a hooker, says he spent two-and- a-half-months watching day-time television prog rammes like the Jeremy Kyle Show.

But the former Ludlow College student has made a remarkable recovery.

He has been given the all-clear to return to the sport and scored a try in his comeback match for the second team against Bridgnorth.

Matt will be at The Linney this Saturday for the visit of Stoke.

The club will be holding a raffle to raise money for the Air Ambulance.

“A lot of people have said that I must be mad wanting to come back,” said Matt, a former chef, who is now looking for work.

“But I can’t wait to get back into Ludlow’s first team. I love my rugby - it’s my life.”

Matt said he was ‘quite shocked’ after being hurt in the Midlands One West defeat at Stoke.

The match was abandoned after 61 minutes but the 38-5 scoreline stood.

“It was a ruck,” recalled Matt, whose dad, Adrian, played for Ludlow in 1979.

“I tackled someone and I went down on to the ball. I got rucked out and got caught on my back.

“I tried to get up but I couldn’t. I didn’t realise that I was taken to hospital in an air ambulance.

“I fractured two vertebrae and compressed another one right in the middle of my back.

“I was in hospital for two days and I was told that I had to stay in bed for two-and-a-half months.

“I went back to the hospital in Stoke on December 13 and I had a scan.

“They told me if the injuries had been deeper, I would have been paralysed.

I couldn’t work and I wasn’t allowed to do anything for 10 weeks apart from watch television.”

Matt says he hopes to return to the first-team fold in February.

“I am not trying to think about what could have happened and my family are fully behind me returning to the sport.

“I had missed playing so much and scoring against Bridgnorth was the best feeling.

“I am going to play another couple of second-team games and see how it goes.”

Whites at the Rose and Crown in Tenbury are supporting Saturday’s pre-match meal at The Linney.