It’s been a long road back from recovery for Craig Tanner.
But the time has come for the Englishman to ditch the crutches and return to the grass as he reaches the home stretch of a difficult route back to fitness.
Determined to come back even stronger, Tanner admits he still has a long way to go.
“It’s been a positive couple of weeks,” he said. “I had a tough month or so when things wouldn’t quite settle down, but hopefully now I’m on the home stretch.”
The attacker knows the importance of patience and positivity at such a frustrating time for a footballer, and he owes much to head physiotherapist David Henderson.
“I’m starting to limp around a bit. I think I’m going out on the grass on Tuesday to work on some light running mechanics with Davie, so it’s a positive start and we’ll see how it goes.
“Davie Henderson has been so important in helping me, not just in terms of the work he does but even little things. We take the mick out of each other to keep us laughing, and stuff like that is huge sometimes.”
The recovery room is starting to get a little bit busier for the medical team, and Tanner admits it has been a lonely place until recently.
“A few lads have joined me on loan at Injury FC,” he joked. “Thankfully it’s just short-term for them. But it’s good, we have a laugh and a joke about things but we all just want to get back on the pitch really.”
And that’s getting closer and closer for one of Motherwell’s creative sparks, whose patella tendon injury will keep him out for at least another month at the very least.
“To be honest when it first happened, the thought of even running lightly seemed a million miles away, but I see now how much I’ve come on over the past six months,” he said.
“But to be honest, some days are better than others and some days are harder too. Sometimes I feel I’ve still got a long way to go, so I just need to be patient and positive too.”
Running and moving around the pitch will be difficult for the 23-year-old initially, but the thought of kicking a ball after such a long spell is something else entirely.
“I need to make sure I’ve still got the technique, that’s the problem! But as always the boys are winding me up about that, saying I won’t have my left-foot whips anymore.
“But to be honest it’s gone alright so I just have to see what happens really and tick the boxes as I go along.”
Motherwell’s number 27 knows he has been lucky with the support around him, and it’s been what’s kept his head up.
He said: “Mentally it’s been really tough at times, but I have good support at home and that’s been something I’m so thankful for.
“Then when I come in to work it can be difficult because I don’t see anything outside, I’m there from 9am till 4pm just giving it my all.
“That’s when the lads seemed to notice a change, they could tell it was getting to me and they knew exactly what to say and how to be with me, and that’s what teammates are for sometimes. They picked me up.”
He added: “The gaffer’s been superb too. He hasn’t put any pressure on my injury, he keeps telling me the same things, to take my time, make sure I approach everything properly and don’t cut corners.”
And for Craig Tanner, the long road back to recovery may be approaching it’s end, but there are no corners in sight on the home stretch.