Nicky Riley says his cruciate ligament injury has made him appreciate the simple things in life.
It’s eight weeks since the Peterhead midfielder had surgery on his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Riley’s rehab has started, but currently he is restricted to light exercises and using an exercise bike.
After 12 weeks Riley hopes he will be able to step up his rehab as he embarks on the long recovery process.
The 32-year-old sustained the injury on January 30 in a match against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park.
After having his operation at the end of April, Riley has been largely housebound and said that has made him appreciate things away from football like being able to walk and drive.
He said: “I was on crutches for a while and I’m still walking with a slight limp just now, so I’m just trying to get back to walking normally.
“There are things like walking that you take for granted but I’ve been walking with a limp.
“It’s difficult just now not being able to walk properly and not being able to drive again yet.
“I haven’t got full range in my knee yet and I need to have that after 12 weeks and the rehab can start.
“It’s been difficult not being able to drive and being on crutches but all that will come back in time.
“It makes you appreciate things a lot more.
“Being able to walk properly and bend down and drive that’s nothing to do with football, that’s just normal life.
“Without taking the fact that you can’t play football or be active it is just normal routine life that has been affected.
“It’s getting easier now, but I was basically housebound for a while and it wasn’t easy getting out and about.
“It will be easier once I can drive again and take myself to the gym for my rehab. There are people a lot more worse off than me, but getting over that was difficult.
“In football you hear about these injuries and you think they’ll never happen to you.
“But it’s one of these things. You can’t dwell on it, you have to get on it.”
Riley believes one of the biggest challenges in overcoming a long-term injury such as his is dealing with it mentally.
He admits it can be difficult to come to terms with, but takes confidence from seeing so many other players bounce back from cruciate ligament injuries to continue to have good careers.
Riley added: “With an injury like this the mental side of it is probably just as important as the physical side.
“You’re doing the rehab in the gym and that’s you getting physically ready to come back.
“But the whole mental side and mentally it can be difficult to deal with.
“There are players at all levels of football who have this injury and come back to play so you need to look at these guys.
“Those people can given you confidence that they’ve come back.
“But it’s a big thing getting over the injury, it’s happened and you need to move on from it and be mentally strong to come back playing.”
Riley will remain a Peterhead player next season while he continues his recovery.
Being given another contract by the Blue Toon is something he appreciates because many part-time clubs in Scotland would not be willing to keep a player that for a large chunk of next term will be unable to play.
Riley is thankful to still be with the Buchan side and already insists his aim is to get back fit and playing to repay the Balmoor club for the support they have given him.
He said: “I spoke to the gaffer Jim McInally at the end of the season and he said there was a deal there for me.
“Not every club does that and it’s not always the case that you get kept on after an injury.
“In Scotland especially, I don’t think there are many teams who would give you that help and give you that support.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the club, I’m thankful to the manager but also the club and people like Ian Grant (vice-chairman) and Harry Fraser (a director).
“They can’t do enough for you and they’ve given me the support.
“I’ve never thought that I would have to stop playing because of this injury and I was hoping to continue with Peterhead.
“I know with some clubs it’s not always like that where you get kept on, but I’m thankful Peterhead have kept me on.
“Now it’s about trying to get fit and get back playing again to give them something back after giving me the contract.
“That’s what I can do for them now is get back playing.”