It’s been almost six months since Shaun Maloney played his last game for Wigan Athletic away at Leicester City, and in that time a lot has changed for both the attacking midfielder and the Club.
Maloney has since then, twice been out to the USA for rehabilitation on his hip injury, and Latics have marched up the Sky Bet Championship table into the play-off places.
Having watched Latics’ 4-1 victory over Nottingham Forest from the stands at the weekend, Maloney believes seeing the team’s performances in recent weeks is an added incentive to work hard and return from injury.
“It’s just been great to be back around the Club,” said Maloney.
“I’ve been to watch most of our games since I came back from the USA, my first was the Sheffield Wednesday game and I really enjoyed seeing how we played in that one.
“I was there this weekend too and it was a great win for the boys, they’re full of confidence after such a big result and the run they’ve put together recently is outstanding.
“The way they’ve been playing recently is something I’m desperate to get involved with and the spirit we’ve got is really high right now.”
Maloney continued by praising Latics’ style of play and added that Uwe Rosler has been an inspiring influence.
“The manager has been great with me. Even when I was out in the USA he would catch up with me to see how everything was going, it’s going to be exciting to work with him.
“He’s really got the lads playing some exciting football and since he’s been here the results have been excellent.
“It’s going to be really tight at the top and I think we all recognise just how competitive it’s going to be, but seeing the team play the way they have recently just fills me with confidence.”
Sharing his current situation on the training ground, Maloney said:
“I feel like I’m in a pretty good place.
“I spent four weeks at the rehabilitation clinic in the USA to be able to get to a point where I could get back out on the grass.
“Since then I’ve been working with the medical and sports science team back out on the training ground.
“I’ve been doing a lot of agility work with the ball and the physio Russell Hitchen has got me doing different distances and speeds of running.
“In the afternoons I had been doing strength, cardiovascular and pool work, but now I’m finding myself out on the grass a lot more.
“When you’re injured, you have a lot of work to catch up on and you stay around the training ground a lot more than the fit players, but that’s all part of the rehab process and it’s going well for me.”
With no specific date in mind for a return, Maloney insisted that his goal was to be back available for the first team before the end of the season, adding:
“I don’t know a specific date that I’ll be back because that all depends on how my body reacts to different types of training, but I hope to be back with the lads soon or at least for some days during the week.
“Everything has gone well so far, but I’d love to get back training with the team sometime this month, that would be a massive boost for me.
“My big motivation is to be able to be a part of what’s going to be a big end to the season.
“That’s the reason I’ve spent so much time out in the USA, if I hadn’t gone over there it’s more than likely that I wouldn’t have made the end of the season.
“The way things have gone I definitely feel like I’ve got a chance.
“There are hurdles to overcome for me, joining the group and being up to speed is one of those and the first one on my list.”