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Aston Villa ladies star on injury: “I’ve never felt pain like it”

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Katie Wilkinson writes about the injury that has temporarily put a halt to her footballing.

Photo courtesy of Aston Villa

We’re absolutely thrilled to present Katie Wilkinson as a part-time writer on the site. She is one of the stars of the Aston Villa Ladies squad, but has had to sit out from injury since this summer. We asked if she would be willing to chronicle her return to footballing for us, and she happily obliged. Here is her first report.

We were more or less half way through the WSL season, and I was feeling in good shape. I'd been through a tough period personally outside of football at the start of the year, but football was my outlet and I was feeling focused and fit. I’d been in good form, of course I it wasn't my best, but I made a good start to the season scoring 8 goals and felt like I had plenty more to add to my tally.

Unfortunately, that wasn't to be the case. On 14th July, I drove to training like I usually would, excited to get my boots on and get in and around the team to prepare for our game against Milwall on the following Sunday. It didn't end well.

During a training match, I went up for a header with one of the girls, got slightly nudged as I was mid air, and landed on the outside of my foot. To make matters worse, the girl I went up with came down on my foot as it landed awkwardly, only for it to then flip back and snap the other way too. I painfully managed to snap 5 ligaments in my right ankle.

I've never felt pain like it, and I'm not one to stay on the ground after a challenge, so the rest of the girls were all a little shocked at the agony I was in. I just remember lying on the ground looking round at everybody's worried faces, I was screaming my head off though! I look back and laugh now, but at the time the physios were trying to get information from me about what had happened to try and help, but all I kept shouting was for them to take the pain away, like they could perform miracles. I knew they couldn't, but I was in so much pain that I didn't know what else to do. [AVLFC manager] Ron Mellor was a star though, he came over and gripped my hand which helped me to become a little more relaxed.

I knew straight away what I had done was bad. Ryan the phsyio did a test on my ankle before the swelling began to test whether there was ligament damage or not; his face was a picture. It’s safe to say there wasn't a lot holding my ankle together. After this, Framps (our head phsyio) and Ryan carried me off the pitch and onto the phsyio bed. I needed to go to hospital, so while that was being arranged, the rest of the medical team, staff and players all tried to make me smile as much as possible. After leaving the hospital in the early hours on crutches and plenty of high dosage codeine, it was time to rest and hope that my ankle would start to heal as quickly as possible.

Since the injury, I've visited an ankle specialist a couple of times, had MRI scans and been given advice about the next step, but unfortunately for me its now a waiting game, and for a very impatient person I'm sure you'll appreciate that this is becoming very frustrating. No one is really sure on when it is I'll be back playing. I am waiting for another MRI scan which I will have within the next week to see what has repaired within my ankle and what hasn't. If there are ligaments which have not repaired at this point, four months on, then my ankle will need reconstructing which will delay the recovery process. If the MRI scan comes back that the healing process has worked, I can continue my rehab with the club physios and hope to back in a few months.

Being out of football this long is something that I never want to do again, I'm missing it so much. I'm still training my upper body three or four times a week and trying to condition my body as much as possible. My little U14 girls that I coach at Villa are keeping me motivated though. I coach them 2/3 times a week to get ready for their game on a Saturday and they have been my little saviours. Keeping me on my toes and helping them to develop and become better players is always a good feeling. They're such a good bunch too, and it’s nice to be around a group of players with such togetherness and good team spirit. I'm always laughing and joking around with them, but when it comes to the nitty gritty they start to focus and give their all. They've been telling me about how good my left foot will be when i come back, as when I'm doing demos for them, that's the only foot I can use. The kids make me so determined to come back fitter and stronger, now more than ever.

For now though, my focus is with the physios in rehabbing my ankle and getting it to where it needs to be. They've all been so good with me; I'm not an easy person to look after when I want to be on the pitch playing rather than off it, but they've stuck by me, put up with me and really helped me to keep focused and keep working towards my goals. They probably deserve a medal for putting up with me for the past four months, and they've still got me for even longer yet!

Have your fingers and toes crossed for me, where I'm hoping for some positive results back from my MRI, hoping the healing process has gone well hopefully avoiding surgery.