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Irish international Megan Campbell nearing end of injury hell

The Manchester City defender hasn’t played for 15 months.

Campbell forced to assume a spectator role at Irish training, along with Tyler Toland.
Campbell forced to assume a spectator role at Irish training, along with Tyler Toland.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRISH INTERNATIONAL MEGAN Campbell’s absurd injury woe is nearing an end: she has returned to training with Manchester City after a 15-month absence with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Campbell missed eight months of action with a serious ankle injury suffered in 2016, after which she returned to win the FA Cup with City and play a crucial role in Ireland’s opening World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in September, 2017.

Two months later, however, Campbell tore her ACL in a Champions League tie in Norway and hasn’t played since, missing most of Ireland’s ultimately unsuccessful qualifying campaign along with City’s run to the Champions League semi-finals.

This week, however, she returned to training with the rest of the City squad and is tentatively targeting a comeback against Watford on the first weekend of February.

“I am back training as of last Monday”, Campbell tells The42. “My head is telling my feet what to do but my feet aren’t doing it, so it will take a few weeks”.

Having initially expected to be back at the beginning of this season, Campbell’s return has been delayed by complications which resulted in her undergoing surgery to graft a patellar tendon onto her ACL.

Campbell has also been troubled by grief away from football: her grandfather, renowned musician Eamonn Campbell, passed away in October 2017 and she lost her grandmother the following April.

“It’s been quite tough. Like anyone who plays sport, or in any walk of life, it is tough if you are missing out on something you love to do”.

So to have some negative things happen away from football it wasn’t as easy as it might have been. I had to keep my head down and working hard, and although I didn’t have football as my way out, even when I was in the gym I had to work hard and focus on the next day, and the next day.

She appreciates City’s keeping her in touch with the first team, along with the frequent messages from Irish manager Colin Bell during her lengthy absence. Campbell was also involved as a pundit on RTE’s live coverage of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland, and says that “it’s nice to see people are thinking of me, even though it’s been tough”.

Campbell’s priority now is merely to start enjoying football again, although her first training session was not without its nervy moments.

“I’m not going to lie – on my first training session back I stretched for a ball and thought I felt something my knee. One of the girls said my face just went as pale as a ghost.

But there will always be that aspect at the beginning – it’s trying to understand what’s an ache rather than a sharp pain. My body is telling me to feel pain, pain, pain, but it’s about distinguishing between being genuinely injured and just feeling something because I’ve had major surgery”. 

Megan Campbell was speaking at the launch of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme. Register by February 15th at www.fai.ie/primary5

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