After surgery in the USA, attacking midfielder Shaun Maloney returns to Wigan Athletic to continue his recovery from a hip and back problem that has seen him missing from the action since mid-September.
The 30-year-old’s final game came on 14 September away to Leicester City (pictured) in the Championship, just his fifth appearance of the season.
Explaining the initial problem and the process of his injury and surgery, Maloney elaborated in a recent interview, saying:
“I had a hip issue which the medical team diagnosed around about June, but the decision was made to try and get through this season which didn’t work.
“That in turn caused a problem for my back, which was the final straw and I felt in my own performances that I was a shadow of the player I would like to be.
“I wasn’t able to contribute in the way I wanted to and that’s when I knew something had to be done to fix the issue.”
Maloney admitted it was a difficult period for him mentally, because he wanted to carry on playing his part in the team, but eventually knew that surgery would be the only way forwards.
“When you get a long term injury it’s important to be mentally prepared, but it was always going to be tough because as a footballer nobody wants to miss games.
“Once the decision to have the operation was made things became a lot easier because I could then get my head around what the rehab process would be like.”
Surgery required in America was the next step for Maloney and a process of rehab which he said was helped by the support of his Dad.
“I went to Vail in Colorado for the surgery and the surgeon was very happy to see me when he did because the longer this type of injury was left the more effect it could have had on my career.
“Straight after my operation I was into the rehab process and that’s what I’ve been focussing on for the last six or seven weeks.
“I had one of my parents over in America with me which I needed, because I think anybody who has had any type of surgery could tell you that it’s debilitating and you end up relying on other people for support.”
A constant rehab schedule followed for Maloney (pictured earlier in the season), who said it was an all-day process:
“Rehab was each morning for the first few weeks, with machines for me to use during the afternoons and at night time, so it was a gruelling process.
“It was a tough time because I’d be driven to rehab in the morning, go through the session and then I’d be driven back to use the machines in the place I was staying.”
Upon his return to Wigan Athletic, Maloney said the hard work is set to continue, thanks to a programme arranged between the medical teams in the USA and at the club.
“The physios from Vail and the physios from the club got together and came up with a six week programme for me to use before I go back to see the surgeon again.
“At the moment it’s all about focussing on that six week programme before I can really gauge how long it’s going to be, I don’t have a timescale for when I’ll be back playing yet.
“I know it’s a long way off, but I just can’t wait to get back playing for the club.”
Watching from afar for over three months of the season, Maloney shared his opinion on the change in management at the club and said he can’t wait to sink his teeth into the current style of play.
“It’s been difficult for me because I’ve been following the team from afar and only the European games were shown live on TV, so some of the lads kept me updated with the performances and results.”
“The new gaffer is a good man who is very forthright with his ideas and he has his own philosophy on how the team should play.
“It’s a very disciplined idea which is something the players have fully embraced since his arrival.
“There’s a real emphasis on forcing the opposition into mistakes with our current style, and having possession in the final third seems to be key to the way the team is playing.
“Being back at the training ground and attending the games has given me a chance to see the lads first hand and the way they’re playing is something I’m desperate to be a part of.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel for me now I’m back in Wigan, but there’s a lot of hard work to be done.”