Leading goalscorer Eve Gatens is “buzzing to be back” when South Shields Women restart their season in the new year.
She suffered ligament damage to her ankle against Spennymoor Town in October, which has ruled her out of action since.
A host of postponements in recent weeks has meant that by the time Shields take on Wakefield on January 14th, Gatens won’t have played any competitive football for the side in three months.
Nevertheless, Shields’ talisman is grateful that her injury wasn’t too detrimental, not only for herself but for the team - the four games since have seen them win twice and draw twice, even if one draw led to County Cup elimination on penalties.
“The injury (ligament damage in my ankle) has affected me in many ways, both physically and mentally,” she reflected.
“Thankfully it wasn’t a serious injury and I was able to miss out on only a few games.
“It’s never easy having to watch from the side knowing you can’t contribute anything on the pitch.
“Since being out injured, I’ve tried to cheer the girls on and give them as much support as possible as no game is an easy game in this league.”
Gatens combines her playing duties with a day job in a local gym, which she says has been crucial for her recovery.
She added: “It has helped me massively being involved in the health and fitness industry and working in a gym.
“I've been surrounded by people that have helped me a lot in my recovery phase, which has helped me get back into football training and getting my fitness back to how it was.”
Poor weather has largely ruled the Mariners out of action since mid-November, but one consolation is that it has given players the chance to recover before a tough, but hopefully rewarding, challenge awaits in the promotion fight.
“Having so many postponed games has been frustrating for us as a team as it would have helped keep us ticking over going into the new year,” she continued. “But it means there’s also a good chance for players to rest and recover if carrying any niggles.
“The first game back against Wakefield will be a competitive one and I’m buzzing to be back for it.
“I’m sure the girls will be 100% up for it and will want to continue the unbeaten run we’re on."