Gillingham midfielder Alex MacDonald is on his way to recovery after coming from the toughest time of his career.
His last match for the club came on October 9 when a serious knee injury threatened to end his playing days. He is now facing a decisive summer as he looks to get back in shape for the pre-season.
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The 32-year-old suffered a lateral meniscus in one knee and was still in pain after the operation. It was an injury that even the specialists who admitted were unusual.
He underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment, where they took blood from his arm, spun it and returned it to his legs, which is hopefully the answer to his problem.
He has run on the grass again and worked hard at the gym in the hope that his playing career still has several years left to run.
“It’s been a really hard time, probably the hardest period of my career, mentally,” MacDonald acknowledged.
“With the injury, the season we’ve had, looking back and not being able to help, it’s been really hard, really hard.
“There have been many dark times whether I would play again or not.
“But in the last four to six weeks, I’ve really turned around and I’m back on the grass, starting to run straight out, jumping, jumping – all that. It finally seems to be going in the right direction rather than getting setback after setback like that. had been.
“It will be huge, personally, just to come back from injury. There have been so many times that I almost gave up and I have had various specialists say that this is my last chance, they can not do anything more, surgically .
“It’s just a matter of nature taking its course and if your race is over, your race is over.
“It’s hard to hear, I know I’m 32 but I feel I have so much more to offer, so much more to give.
“At the end of last season, I was looking forward to playing until I was 36-37. You come across an injury like this and it makes you take an inventory and how much you miss the game when you’re away from it.
“I’m just desperate to shake it off, but the main thing for the team is that we bounce back and it starts on June 22 when we all report back to the preseason.
“I’m hopeful and I’m desperate to make sure I’m back to playing.”
A popular character in the locker room, his teammates will surely cheer on his return. Gills missed him and others in the attacking third last season.
He has another year on his playing contract at Gills and will need to impress manager Neil Harris when he returns to training. He has played against Harris’ teams before but not for one.
“The number one goal is to get back in shape, number two is to impress the coach and make sure I have a positive impact on the team in the coming season,” he said.
“It’s easier to play the game than to look on the sidelines, especially when you care so much and so much is at stake for the club. You are desperate to help and try and you would do anything to be on the pitch, but looking at it was really difficult, especially with the lack of numbers in the front areas.
“What has happened has happened. We have all had time to reflect and now we have to move on to what will be a tough season next season but which everyone in the club is looking forward to.”