It’s been almost one year since Harry Souttar tore his ACL while playing for Australia’s senior team. Fast forward 11 months to now and the 24-year old could be close to making his return to Stoke City’s first team squad.
Coming back from any injury can prove to be difficult. Especially when it’s a ligament injury involving the knee area. These types of injuries normally take a good amount of time to build the strength back up in the leg – in order to be fully fit to return to live game action.
One thing is for sure though, Souttar, who spoke with the team’s website on Monday, seems to be taking things in good stride and is just happy to be back out on the pitch:
"“Amazing just to be back on the grass…You can train as much as you want and doing running sessions and stuff. But there’s nothing like being out there with the lads.”"
There’s still no official timeline known for Souttar’s return to first team action, but Souttar does continue to ramp up his minutes in matches at the U21 level for Stoke City. First last Monday against Nottingham Forest’s U21 squad when Souttar started and played the entire first half before being subbed off at the half.
Then on Sunday Souttar again started, this time against Sunderland’s U21 team, and played 70 minutes before making way to the bench. Next up for Souttar, he could be in action with the U21’s again on Thursday as they take on Burnley.
On Monday, Souttar also talked about the team’s plan for him returning to U21 matches and other match action in the near future:
"“Yeah it was always going to be 45 (minutes against Forest) and 67-70 after that. Not sure what holds for the next couple of weeks…23’s have a fixture on Thursday…Not too sure what the plan is. But obviously we’ll sit down tomorrow (Tuesday) with everyone, kind of put together a plan for the next couple of weeks.”"
In order for Souttar to be completely first team match-ready, one would figure Souttar will have to ramp up to playing full 90 minute matches. And it could even be a scenario where Souttar has to play multiple 90 minute matches to ensure he’s back to full fitness.
For Souttar, not only will he be hoping to ramp up his match involvement quickly to return to first team action. But Souttar will also be hoping his fitness levels by late November allow him to be ready for World Cup matches for Australia.
The trick for any player returning from injury though is to get themselves ready as quick as possible, is to also not go too fast:
"“There’s a certain element to that yeah (not pushing yourself too far). Me being the player, I’m always the one pushing. Obviously the coaching staff and medical team, are the one’s kind of hanging me back. It’s just about finding a balance.”"
Manager Alex Neil won’t want to rush back the six foot six center-back too quickly, but he’ll definitely be a welcomed sight when Souttar is ready. Once Souttar is deemed fit enough to return, Neil could deploy Souttar right away in his backline to give The Potters some more size at the back.