Motherwell’s Saunders stays positive after ‘freak injury’

Motherwell defender Steven Saunders played with a broken shin for five years – but he has no intention of rushing back from his latest serious injury.

The 20-year-old is resigned to spending at least the vast majority of the season on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles tendon on Scotland Under-21 duty earlier this month.

Saunders shrugged off constant pain during his formative years at Queen’s Park, downplaying the problem in his eagerness to play football, before eventually undergoing surgery ahead of his move to Motherwell in 2008. This time he will listen to the advice of Fir Park physio John Porteous to ensure he does not threaten his long-term recovery.

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The versatile defender said: “I broke my shin, but that was at a young age and I played through that. Some things you can’t play through, especially when you are full-time and that’s your job. I played through a broken shin for five years and it just got too much. I had to get the operation finally. That was five months [out], but I was back playing quite quickly, just not telling the Queen’s Park physios. This time I think the physios will take the huff if I start playing too early!

“John is brilliant – he gets people back quicker than expected – but this is going to be different. It’s going to take time. You’ve got to take it simple. There will be points I feel good and I’ll want to rush back into it. The physios and the doctors will keep me right. I know myself it’s going to be a long-term injury and I can’t rush it because you are set back again, and I can’t afford that.”

Saunders was relieved to be back among team-mates at Fir Park yesterday after getting his stitches out, but he is also planning to further his education after accepting he will not play for seven to eight months.

“There is nothing you can do – it’s just going to be frustrating,” said Saunders. “The surgeon just said it’s a freak injury. I have never had any pain in my calf or my Achilles. I stepped forward and it was ruptured.”

The latest game Saunders will miss is tonight’s Scottish Communities League cup second-round fixture against Clyde at Broadwood.

Motherwell are looking to build on last season’s cup performances, where they lost to either side of the Old Firm in a Hampden final and semi-final.

Assistant manager Kenny Black said: “Everyone is very eager to get back to major semi-finals and finals. That’s very important to the club.”

Clyde manager Jim Duffy is keeping everyone’s feet on the ground at Broadwood despite a seven-point haul from their first three league games by reminding them what happened to the last lower league in-form side that took on Motherwell in a cup tie. Duffy said: “We are on a good run, but Dundee were on a great run last season and Motherwell went up to their place and won 4-0 in a Scottish Cup tie, so we will not be getting carried away in our preparations.”

John ‘JC’ Hutchison will come in to replace on-loan Dundee United shot-stopper Felip Mentel, who has not been allowed to play in the competition by the Tannadice side.