In the world of football, injuries are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the game. They can disrupt careers, dash team aspirations, and test the resilience of players and coaching staff alike. At Dunfermline, the journey to recovery has been paved with patience, dedication, and top-notch medical care. Manager James McPake, who knows from personal experience a thing or two about the challenges of injuries, recently lauded the club’s medical department for their exemplary handling of these setbacks.
On Saturday Kane Ritchie-Hosler made a triumphant return to first-team action after being sidelined for a frustrating ten weeks due to an ankle injury. James acknowledged the toll such injuries can take on players, stating, “Even the Craig Wighton one last year, we just couldn’t really get to the bottom of it. The knee, it was grumbling away, and just one conversation with a certain surgeon in London and the club were more than happy to do it. That’s not the case everywhere.”
When time is of the essence, Dunfermline’s medical department has shown a commitment to thoroughness and player welfare. James emphasised the significance of their work, noting, “The medical department is good and they spend a lot of time with the players, getting them back fit.” This dedication extends beyond physical recovery, addressing the mental aspects as well.
James understands the delicate balance between rushing players back into action and ensuring their long-term well-being. He stressed:-
“I just think you need to be patient. It’s that one: do you give it an extra week or do you risk that flare-up or whatever it may be – a breakdown – just for the sake of one game? There have been times in my career I’ve done that, so I’m very reluctant to do that with the players, which is strange because I did it. They are human beings and have the rest of their careers. Some of them are very young.”
Of course, injuries are unpredictable, and the risk of a different injury upon return is always present. James acknowledged this reality, saying, “There’s always the risk of a different injury when they do come back but, touch wood, it has been good. We’ve had a couple of serious ones last year: Lewis McCann, Paul Allan, Breeny’s hamstring was pretty bad at one point as well.
He cited examples of players who have faced tremendous adversity, such as Lewis Vaughan at Raith, who twice suffered injuries to both ACLs, underlining the element of sheer bad luck that can strike even the most resilient athletes.
The manager credited the success of injury recoveries to a combination of factors, including rigorous pre-season preparations and the unwavering determination of the players themselves. “A lot is down to pre-season, I do believe that, and the work the players put in,” he emphasised.
In the end, James reserved the most praise for the players who undergo these grueling rehabilitation processes. He recognised the mental strength required to overcome injuries, saying, “The most credit has to go to whichever player it is who is injured because they are the ones who are bored in the gym or bored at home in a boot. It takes a strong mentality to get back from injury properly.”
Matty Todd had his protective boot removed this week and Deniz Mehmet is thought to be a couple of weeks away from being back to being available for selection. However, news is awaited on the severity of the foot injury that forced Kyle Benedictus to come off against Inverness Caley Thistle.