Making the switch to ML1 in the summer of 2021, then Rangers loanee Laura McCartney had the world at her feet after breaking into the Ibrox first-team and consistent appearances on the international stage, but a serious injury sidelined the midfielder throughout her spell in Lanarkshire.
Looking for consistency at the domestic level, McCartney signed on a season-long loan deal with ambitions of establishing her place at the core of the Motherwell midfield, but a major injury sustained prior to her debut in claret and amber left the youngster on the sidelines for over two-years.
“I was returning from an ACL injury at the time,” McCartney explained.
“After returning from such a long period on the sidelines, I was looking to get back to a regular playing and training regime and Motherwell seemed the perfect place to be able to do that.
“After suffering an ACL injury previously, I was really excited to move to Motherwell and get back to playing football. For that to be curtailed with another stint on the sidelines with a cartilage injury was disappointing.”
McCartney’s highly-anticipated move to Lanarkshire proved to be a challenging process, as the combination of historical and fresh injury concerns left McCartney to face an extensive and unpredictable spell on the sidelines.
“At first, it was difficult to give an exact time frame,” McCartney outlined.
“With it being a cartilage injury, I knew that I would ultimately be on the sidelines for another long spell. Having already been through that experience and come back from an ACL injury, it was obviously really difficult to take.”
Despite having not featured for Paul Brownlie’s side across the following two seasons, the Head Coaches faith in McCartney’s ability persisted, with the 21-year-old signing on a permanent basis ahead of the 2023/24 SWPL campaign.
“It was really encouraging,” McCartney noted.
“At the time it was really important for me to be able to return to play but not in a rushed manner. Paul and the rest of the coaching staff as well as the team were great in being able to facilitate that for myself and eventually get me back onto the pitch.
“Ultimately, it is about working hard and having a positive impact on the game. When I’m given the opportunity, I always try to have an impact by working hard, sticking to the game plan and creating opportunities that will hopefully be capitalised on.”
After 855 days on the sidelines, McCartney returned to action against her former side in September, before re-introducing herself back to the K-Park faithful with an exceptional long-range strike in a prolific six-goal thriller over Dundee United.
“It was really special,” McCartney said.
“To see former teammates and staff that helped me through the process of getting back onto the pitch was great and to finally make a contribution to the team was a long time coming.
“Having not experienced that feeling for such a long time, you almost forget what it feels like. For that strike to hit the back of the net, it was a really special moment for me.”
The women of steel will return to competitive action next weekend, as the Scottish Cup returns to the domestic calendar, with Paul Brownlie’s side looking to replicate their successes of the previous season.
Motherwell etched themselves into the history books by becoming one of the first women’s sides to contest a domestic cup Semi-Final at Hampden Park after a comprehensive four-goal victory over Glasgow Women in the previous round.
Forced to watch from the sidelines, McCartney is motivated to reclaim the lost experience at the national stadium.
“The team did well last year to be able to make it to that stage of the competition,” McCartney explained.
“To be able to do it with the group of players that we have now, it would be special and ultimately it would be great to be able to have the opportunity to continue to compete for silverware.
“Having missed out on the opportunity last season, I’m focused and motivated to get back to that stage and experience playing at the national stadium.”