Stevie May’s exclusive column

Preston North End's Stevie May

Preston North End's Stevie May

It has been great to be out on the training pitch with the boys again over the last few weeks after a long time on the sidelines with the knee injury.

At first it felt a bit strange, you have to get used to all the different movements again.

Bit by bit, day by day, the knee has felt easier and to be among the boys again has been a big thing mentally.

In life you take a lot of things for granted and it is only when you get a serious injury that you realise that.

Just being able to run again was a big thing, let alone being able to join in with training.

When I was on crutches when I first got the injury and then again after the operation, you need help with a simple thing like making a cup of tea.

Over the months, the work with the physios brings back the full movement and now I’m gradually working towards playing again.

At this stage, I still get a few niggles but that has got to be expected.

The more sessions you get through, the less niggles you tend to get.

When I first started back, even making a simple pass led to a slight niggle in the medial ligament.

Gradually it gets less and less and I’m only feeling it if I strike the ball long.

Some of the boys who have had knee injuries in the past and have been back playing for a long time, say they still get twinges every now and then.

In training, none of the boys have been firing straight into me with tackles yet.

Nothing has been said about not being able to tackle me but the others know what happened and aren’t going to take the Mickey.

Maybe I do need a couple of full-on challenges to put my mind at ease, that is the big part of the recovery.

I damaged three ligaments in my right knee – the ACL, PCL and MCL.

For the first three months I had to wear a brace to allow the PCL – the posterior cruciate ligament – to heal.

It is quite unusual for a footballer to damage the PCL, usually it is the ACL.

The PCL healed more or less down to a grade one on its own. Then I had the operation to repair the ACL and MCL.

I could have had all three repaired by an operation but with the amount of swelling and trauma in the knee, the surgeon said there was a risk of not getting full range and movement back if he did all three.

So the decision was made to let the healing process start on its own and for the PCL to heal naturally.

I don’t know exactly when I’m going to be back playing.

There are a couple of bounce games coming up in a few weeks and it will be a case of seeing how the knee feels.

Maybe it will be a case of starting off by playing half an hour of a game and building from there.

I can’t wait to be back with the first-team but I will be guided along.

My team-mates have been as good as gold during my time out.

This is an easy changing room to be part of, everyone is really together.

I hadn’t been here that long when I got injured and since then I’ve got to know the boys a lot better.

As the weeks go by, you get different people in the physio room, someone else to work alongside.

You don’t like to see any player get injured but injuries are part and parcel of the game – a bit of company was always nice.

Calum Woods was with me in the treatment room and gym after he got injured in the pre-season. Woodsy had a similar type of injury to mine and used the same surgeon.

He is in good hands with our physio Matt Jackson.

Jacko is a physio who works you very hard and will keep on top of your recovery.

Yes, he can be a pain in the backside – in the nicest sense of course – but everything he does is to help you.

Jacko was always very good with the days off, with him very understanding that it is mentally draining coming back from a long-term injury.

A lot of the rehabilitation involves repetitive exercises and treatment, so you do need an occasional break.

The timing of my injury wasn’t the best in that I had not been a Preston player for every long – just about three months.

Another way of looking at it though, is that I’m still young and have plenty of years in the game ahead of me.

If I was in my early 30s and had got the injury, it might have been hard to get back.

I have still got plenty of time left on my contract, it is not as if I’m in the last few months of a deal.

I’m sure it would be very stressful if you got an injury of this nature and your contract was due to run out.

On a different topic, in the next international break in a few weeks, Scotland face England in a World Cup qualifier.

I made my Scotland debut the last time we played England two years ago, coming on as a substitute in the second half.

That match at Celtic Park was a friendly and good to play in.

I had always enjoyed playing there, it is one of the better grounds and the atmosphere is always good.

The result wasn’t the best from my point of view, with England winning 3-1.

England had a strong side out there with a lot of good players, Wayne Rooney was on fire that day.

Playing for your country is a big part of anyone’s career and I have good memories of that appearance for Scotland.

Obviously, I would like to play for them again but I need to get back playing here first and take things from there.