Published: 00:00, 09 March 2018
Darren McQueen has revealed the severity of the knee injury which has sidelined him for the last five months.
McQueen had to come off towards the end of Fleet’s 2-0 win over Halifax on September 30 and hasn’t played since.
He top scored with 20 goals – including the winner in the play-off final – as Ebbsfleet won promotion last season.
So missing most of their National League campaign has been a hammer blow – although the prognosis could have been worse.
McQueen said: “The ball was cleared from a corner, I jumped for a header, landed and my knee went in. I felt it straight away but I didn’t know what it was.
“I came off and the next day my knee was like a balloon. I knew it was definitely something serious and my knee was clicking every time I walked.
“When I got it checked first, they thought it was cartilage because of the clicking and it turned out that was it. I had an MRI scan and the specialist said I had a complex tear in my meniscus.
“He said that kind of injury could be career-ending if it was 10 years ago. Most people would have their meniscus shaved away and that can cut down your career by five years.
“But with mine, they stitched it back together so it gives me a better chance. The fact they could repair it, that was the best news.
“I knew I was going to be out for a long time but I’m making progress and hopefully I don’t have any setbacks.”
McQueen has watched his team-mates from the stands and admitted: “That’s the worst part, always wanting to be out there, because I love playing and training and it’s a long time since I’ve been on the pitch. But you can’t do much about it. The best thing is to do what the surgeon says. I miss being in all the time but I’ll do what needs to be done.
“I’ve got to keep my head strong and keep focused. I know I’ll be back eventually.
“Coming to games is good because I get to see the boys and be around it. The first six weeks, when I couldn’t weight bear, I was still going to matches but I wasn’t going into training.
“I was just sitting at home, bored out of my head. All I was thinking about was playing football.”
But there is light at the end of the tunnel with McQueen stepping up his rehabilitation at St George’s Park this week.
He said: “I have to thank Aaron McLean for the rehab at St George’s. He’s the one who put me in touch with them.
“I’ve had a lot of support from everyone, the manager, the boys and the physio department – everyone’s been helpful.”