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Physio Whelan charts her recovery; Blues defender has inside knowledge on own injury.

Byline: CHRIS BEESLEY

AS A qualified physiotherapist, Everton Ladies defender Fern Whelan is used to dealing with other people's sporting ailments, but two years ago the boot was on the other foot as she underwent a major knee operation to save her career.

The date was February 2012 and Whelan, just 23 at the time, had to give up any hopes of taking part in the London Olympics or going to the 2013 European Women's Championship. s

It was a massive sacrifice but now she is back and hoping to make up for lost time.

Whelan's injury woes began four years before that when a challenge from an opponent led to her rupturing her Posterior Cruciate Ligament, tearing her Lateral Collateral Ligament and enduring severe bone bruising.

After nine months on the sidelines she returned to action to help Everton win both the FA Women's Cup and FA Women's Premier League Cup, as well as earning a call-up to the senior England team.

However, all was not right and with Whelan's training being hampered by the severe pain she was suffering, MRI scans revealed the need to have another operation that would lead to an even longer spell on the sidelines.

She said: "My problems began after a bad challenge in an FA Cup game and after my latest operation I was out for 20 months. But I played my first match against Aston Villa two weeks ago and it's so good to be back - I just need more games now.

"Being a physio myself helped me to understand what was wrong but I certainly find it easier to tell other people what their problems are rather than going through it myself.

"At first I couldn't do much but, after four months, I was able to work again and that proved a little bit of a distraction for me.

"The other girls would come into training and moan about little strains they had that were going to keep them out for a couple of weeks but seeing me there would show them that things actually weren't so bad for them."

Like all players who aren't in the team, Whelan was a frustrated spectator on the sidelines last season and was left wishing she was out there plugging the gaps in the Blues defence.

She said: "I watched a lot of games last season and could gauge where we were struggling.

"We conceded far too many goals last season.

"We need to tighten up in certain areas.

"There are quite a few new faces in the squad now from before I was injured and it's quite refreshing as we've got a young squad that is building for the future.

"The younger girls all have a point to prove and it's going to be exciting seeing whether they can perform under pressure."

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LONG ROAD BACK: Fern Whelan is looking to make up for lost time
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2014
Words:485
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