FORMER Swindon Town winger Alan O’Brien has revealed how injuries plagued his confidence while playing at the County Ground.

Pacey forward O’Brien joined Swindon in 2009 from Hibernian and went on to make 30 appearances for the Robins - including in the heart-breaking loss to Millwall in the League One play-off final in 2010.

The ex-Newcastle United man and Republic of Ireland international says he ‘loved’ his time at the club, particularly working with manager Danny Wilson.

Yet O’Brien’s time at Swindon Town was marred by a string of devastating hamstring injuries - and he’s revealed how those spells in the treatment room took a terrible toll on his confidence.

A tear in O’Brien’s hamstring in August 2009 conspired to keep him out of the first team for six months. It was so bad he could barely walk.

Yet he recovered in time to play the League One play-off semi final against Charlton, and also came on as a sub in the final itself.

But injury still haunted O’Brien, and he candidly admitted that playing became a “burden” and he “wished the games away.”

He said: “I was getting a lot of grief. I did my hamstring three more times and the tears were so bad that I struggled to continue. But football is all I knew. I didn’t have any experience in any other profession. I just had to keep going.”

The Irishman - who is now a broker for Select Car Leasing in Swindon - admitted he wished he had received better support throughout his career when dealing with injury issues.

He said: “In football, you can be forgotten about in just a couple of weeks. That’s how harsh the game is.

“The rewards are massive but it’s a cut-throat world. In my last game for the Republic of Ireland, against the USA, the commentators described me as ‘man of the match’ - yet I never got a call-up again.

“Player welfare has come on leaps and bounds since I played - but it really needed to, and there’s definitely still room for improvement.

“Other professions would not treat their staff the way footballers were treated. Yet in football, being sent to train with the under 23s, or on your own, is perfectly acceptable.

“All of us are human, with feelings and emotions. We’re not robots. And if you’re playing poorly, there’s no-one else who feels it more than yourself. Fans might get on your back and think you don’t care, but you really do.

“Of course, social media has had a massive effect, and the things that are written on there are just not acceptable.

"You read things about yourself on Twitter, or on football forums, and you start to really doubt yourself. I went from performing really well for my national team to feeling like I couldn’t kick a ball.

“And when I look back on it now, I feel like I could have had better support as a young man.

"You need an arm around you, you need your confidence building back up, but on a lot of occasions, I never received that support.”