Liam Donnelly says he is raring to go at Motherwell after 12 months of injury problems – despite initially being ruled out of action for up to 12 weeks.
The versatile Northern Irish midfielder injured his knee in the first Scottish Premiership game of last term against Ross County. He was ruled out for a few months, but the injury soon turned into a season-ending problem after numerous setbacks. Donnelly made his return in the Premier Sports Cup group stage matches earlier this month.
The 25-year-old is aiming for regular league minutes under Motherwell manager Graham Alexander this season – starting with Sunday’s opener against Hibs – as he hopes to leave the past behind him: “The first league game was the last game I played last season so I am definitely looking forward to it.
“The injury was difficult, a couple of setbacks and different time scales along the way. It was challenging more mentally than anything to keep yourself going. The initial time scale was two to three months then it went to five months, seven months, and it was pushing 12 months in the end.
“It was my lateral meniscus which doesn’t get spoken about in the same bracket as an ACL. In terms of recovery time and complications involved, it can be quite serious. But I have got here in the end. I am looking forward to getting going again.
“It has been nice to be back on the pitch with the boys again. I had to try and use them to build up fitness to be ready for the full 90 minutes for the first game on Sunday. I still obviously have to manage myself to make sure that I’m not doing too much.”
Motherwell’s 21/22 league opener against Hibs is set to be played in front of up to 6,500 fans at Fir Park, 4,500 home supporters permitted to attend. Donnelly says the game will be a great occasion.
He added: “I didn’t actually experience Fir Park without the fans but watching from the stand they were a big miss so it will be exciting to have a few more here on Sunday. The staff have been good with me and making sure my load hasn’t been too much.
“But I have still got the right amount of work in me to make sure I am 100% for Sunday. It’s like a fresh slate, I have to go out and impress the manager every day in training and every game I am involved in. It’s a strange situation but I still have to prove myself to him.”
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