Crocked Motherwell star Steven Saunders: “I won’t put career at risk by returning too early”

STEVEN SAUNDERS insists he won’t rush his return from the serious Achilles tendon injury which has ruined his season – despite playing with a broken shin for five years as a youth.

Saunders is carried from the field after suffering the agonising injury playing for Scotland under 21s

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

Saunders revealed how he 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.

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 today 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, who has made 72 first-team appearances for Motherwell.

“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.

“It’s hard watching football when you’re young, your legs twitch and you just want to play. I’m on crutches for the next six weeks so it’s going to be hard work.

“The boys all get on well and there will be banter flying about and I’m probably going to bear the brunt of it for the next couple of months, but that’s what you expect and that’s what you want.

“I’ve been in the house myself for 10 days and the TV isn’t very good, put it that way.

“So it’s good to be back in seeing the boys and having a bit of a laugh with them.

“I’ve already played the PC to death. I think I’m going to go back and do a college course and just make my time useful, something that keeps my mind active.

“I want to learn Spanish and mechanics and maybe an electrician course, something totally different from football.”

The latest game Saunders will miss is tomorrow’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 connected with the club is very eager to get back to major semi-finals and finals.

“That’s very important to the club and hopefully this is the first stage.

“You know that anything is possible. The feelgood factor from last season, although the 90 minutes against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final wasn’t very good, we enjoyed the build-up, and that’s something we want to bring back as quickly as possible.”