Published: 05:00, 13 May 2022
| Updated: 14:37, 13 May 2022
Gillingham midfielder Alex MacDonald is on the road to recovery after emerging from the toughest time of his career.
His last game for the club came on October 9 as a serious knee injury threatened to end his playing days. He now faces a crucial summer as he looks to get back in shape for pre-season.
The 32-year-old suffered a lateral meniscus tear in a knee and remained in pain after surgery. It was an injury that even the specialists admitted was unusual.
He underwent platelet rich plasma treatment, where they took blood from his arm, spun it and returned it to his bones, which is hopefully the answer to his problems.
He’s been back running on the grass and working hard in the gym in the hope that his playing career still has several more years to run.
“It has been really difficult, probably the hardest spell of my career, mentally,” admitted MacDonald.
“With the injury, the season we have had, watching from the sides and not being able to help, it has been really difficult, really hard.
“There have been a lot of dark times about whether I was going to play again or not.
“But over the last four to six weeks I have really turned a corner and I am back out on the grass, starting to do some straightline running, jumping, hopping - all that kind of thing. It seems to finally be going in the right direction rather than having setback after setback like it had been.
“It will be massive, personally, just to come back from injury. There have been so many times I nearly gave up and I have had different specialists saying this is my last chance, they can’t do anything more, surgically.
“It is just about nature taking its course and if your race is run, your race is run.
“It is hard to hear it, I know I am 32 but I feel I have so much more to offer, so much more to give.
“At the back end of last season I was looking forward to playing until I was 36-37. You come up against an injury like this and it makes you take stock and how much you miss the game when you are away from it.
“I am just desperate to shake it off, but the main thing for the team is that we bounce back and that starts on June 22 when we all report back to pre-season.
“I am hopeful and I am desperate to make sure I am back out playing.”
A popular character in the dressing room, his team-mates will certainly be rooting for his return. The Gills missed him and others in the attacking third last season.
He has another year on his playing contract at the Gills and will have to impress manager Neil Harris when he does return to fitness. He’s played against Harris’ teams before but not for one.
“Number one aim is to get back fit, number two is impress the manager and make sure I have a positive impact on the team in the coming season,” he said.
“It is easier playing the game than watching on the sideline, especially when you care so much and so much is on the line for the club. You are desperate to help and try and you would do anything to be on the pitch, but watching it was really difficult, especially with the lack of numbers in forward areas.
“What has happened has happened. We have all had a time to reflect and now we have to move on to what will be a tough season next season but one which everyone at the club is looking forward to.”