Rochdale defender Joe Thompson beats cancer for second time

Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson has his sights set on a return to the football pitch after beating cancer for a second time.

Thompson, 28, said in June he was in complete remission, having revealed in March that the nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma he had beaten in 2013 had returned.

When he was first diagnosed, Thompson was back playing two months after announcing he was in remission.

While his return date this time is not yet pencilled in, the midfielder said he had relished his return to preseason training, telling Press Association Sport: "I'll have a look at the fixtures and see when I can realistically get back. That was my carrot at the end of it.

"There's one thing you really have to hone in on. What motivates you? Mine was family. They were going to get me through it. But I think my family know they don't have Joe without football.

"I've needed to get in and around the lads again. You do want some normality."

In the six weeks since his all clear, Thompson has attempted to regain his fitness levels and said: "It took me a little bit of time.

"Initially it was two steps forward, one step back. I was still being quite sick at home, but that's just the effects of the treatment and the chemotherapy.

"My energy levels were not brilliant. But the penny dropped two weeks ago and everything started feeling a little bit easier so I got myself back into the football club as soon as possible."

And he said he was grateful for the backing he had received from the football world, adding: "I had lads in the Premier League messaging me off their own back. Things like that don't get highlighted enough.

"Football's massively helped me out. I'm truly grateful for all the support that I've had."