Bristol City defender discusses long path to a senior start and family bereavement before his debut

The former Oxford United youth spoke to the media ahead of facing Championship high-flyers Bournemouth

Bristol City defender Robbie Cundy has opened up on his long journey to be handed a first senior start for the Robins.

The central defender was a 2019 signing from Bath City and has had four loans in his time at Ashton Gate, before he finally was handed a first start against Blackburn Rovers.

That first game resulted in a vital away win and clean sheet, and it’s been two consecutive starts since, with a loss at Barnsley and draw against West Brom, all following a first appearance off the bench against Preston earlier this year, and a full half played at Nottingham Forest.

Cundy was speaking to the media ahead of City heading to Bournemouth this weekend, and with Tomas Kalas again ruled out of action for this weekend, there’s a good chance that the 24-year-old will retain his place in the side.

A tough test against the Cherries awaits, but Cundy is relishing the involvement having had to be patient dealing with a long injury lay-off to get to this point.

He explained that he had fractured the cartilage in his left knee while on loan with Gillingham last season, keeping him sidelined for over half a year. A period of time that tested the player mentally as well as physically.

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“It’s been a long journey, I’ve had four loans since I’ve been here with ups and downs but I’ve finally achieved my goal which was to play for Bristol City,” he explained this week, talking about making his long-awaited debut.

“It was a bit surreal at the time, obviously, it was my first start and we got a win away from home, it was the perfect debut.

“My grandma passed away the day before and my family were up there watching me so that was extra special. I was just delighted with the result,” he said.

Bristol City club legend Brian Tinnion was integral in the signing of Cundy from Bath City, just 12 miles down the road, and Cundy paid tribute to ‘Tinns’ and also former Romans coach Jerry Gill.

The six foot five centre-back is now concentrating on convincing Nigel Pearson that he deserves a longer stay in BS3, with his contract running out at the end of the current campaign.

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The Robins need to improve at the back, and Cundy will hope he can be a part of that. Especially given the rigours to reach this point.

“It was a long slog and there were some dark times but obviously we’ve got through it now and it’s [his knee] holding up well,” he explained on his injury problems this season.

“It’s been a long journey, I’ve had four loans since I’ve been here with ups and downs but I’ve finally achieved my goal which was to play for Bristol City.

“I was with the medical team every day and they saw I was going through a tough time with my injury, being the longest I’ve had. They had a lot of patience so hats off to them. They just kept positive throughout the whole thing and I’m grateful for them.”

“For me it was focusing what I could affect at the time, in the gym and things I could improve on - it was tough seeing the boys go out and train and I was only in the gym doing weights and certain cardio sessions at the time.

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Cundy played plenty of non-League football to reach this point, with time at Gloucester City, Chesham United, Daventry Town and Southport as well as playing at Twerton Park.

He’s certainly served his apprenticeship to reach this point: “It made me the player I am today”.

“I’ve played in a lot of leagues, and I’ve always said that some players that I’ve come across in the past may take a lot of things for granted. Obviously coming to the training ground here and seeing all the top facilities, I’m grateful for having all this,” he added.

“I’ve been through all the leagues and been through some bad and good places and I’m grateful for all this and I’ve got to use everything here which I can to make myself better to stay on top of my injury, and make sure that I’m fit and strong.”