Signed Grimsby Town kit inspires recovering soldier James Johnson even further back to health
AFGHAN hero James Johnson has joined the mission to get The Mariners into the Football League.
A Town strip signed by all the players was presented to the 29-year-old Cleethorpes soldier who is recovering in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.
The Grenadier Guard suffered severe spinal injuries when he was nearly crushed to death by a wall on the front line in Helmand Province in August.
The avid Town fan has become a talisman, inspiring the squad to get back on their feet and into league football.
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The signed team strip was presented to James in hospital by his uncle David Williams and his sons Dean and Ross, from Humberston.
Brave James thanked the squad and pledged to be back on his feet to watch Town get their deserved promotion.
His mum Carole, who visits him almost daily, said: "He was totally delighted with the strip. You could see on his face he was so pleased. It has given him inspiration and he will be an inspiration to them as well. He thanked the club for the gift."
Carole added: "Although he is not on his feet he is making small steps in his recovery. He has had surgery for a bed sore which was hindering progress. That is now resolved and has helped get him back on track with his physio and help build up his body strength."
She said her courageous son had been able to get into a wheelchair in the ward and sits up in bed talking with relatives and friends about what they have been doing back home.
With a laptop he is able to contact friends and log on to www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk to catch up on all the news from home and follow The Mariners' progress.
His mum said he is also enjoying watching movies.
Carole said: "He has had quite a few visitors over Christmas and New Year. It is quite difficult because the days are long. He is hanging on in there and the support he has had is very good.
"He would like to be back on his feet this year but you just don't know.
"We are working on the worst case scenario and then everything else will be a bonus."
She added: "It is lovely that people keep in touch and send their good wishes and he really appreciates the support."
James, a former Humberston Comprehensive School pupil, was first flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham after the wall fell on top of him during a series of explosions.
He was in an induced coma for five weeks.
James was serving on his first tour in Afghanistan, which began in March. He was due to return to the UK in September for training for his Corporal exams.