Hibs defender Darren McGregor won’t let injury get him down

Darren McGregor injured his knee during Hibs 1-1 draw with Dundee at Dens Park back in August
Darren McGregor injured his knee during Hibs 1-1 draw with Dundee at Dens Park back in August
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When you’ve been through two serious injuries which threatened to end your career, eight weeks out of action pales in comparison.

And that’s why Hibs defender Darren McGregor has taken the operation required to mend the torn ligament in his left knee in his stride.

Being out is, of course, far from ideal, but the 32-year-old admits his previous experiences have made coping with the setback far easier to take.

McGregor was only six games into the season when he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in the summer of 2011 and had played just three matches the following year when he picked up the exact same injury – ironically playing against Hibs for St Mirren.

Since then, McGregor had been virtually injury-free until he tore his meniscus – a small piece of cartilage in his left knee – as the Easter Road club took on Dundee at Dens Park at the end of August.

“It’s well-documented I have issues with my knees,” said McGregor. “But I’ve always been able to deal with it. I did my ACL back-to-back which put me out for virtually two years.

“But since then I’ve had a great run. It had been five years since my last injury and I’d played an average of 45 games a season, so I’ve done well.

“That’s the game we are in. Very rarely do you get a player go through his whole career without getting injured. It’s one of those things.”

McGregor knows the exact moment he suffered the injury which forced him to quit at half-time against Dundee. He recalled: “Faissal El Bakhtoui went to cross the ball and I threw my left leg out to try to block it. In doing so, I hyper-extended my knee and, as I did that, I felt a wee tweak.

“I never like coming off but instead of being my usual stubborn self, I was sitting in the changing room at half-time looking at Efe Ambrose and Liam Fontaine, who were among the subs that day.

“I could never have played on because it was hampering me so much, my side-to-side movement and my jumping.

“Coming off was the right thing to do rather than trying to play on and perhaps cost the team while also running the risk of doing myself more damage.”

McGregor gave his knee a week of rest to allow it to settle before having a scan which proved inconclusive. But the surgeon he consulted, Graham Lawson, suspected there was damage which would require surgery.

The player said: “The flexion in my knee, the retention of fluid and the pain, when he put all those things together, led him to believe I’d done a bit of cartilage damage.

“He decided to go in for a look and, if he didn’t find anything, it would be two weeks to recover from the op. You are never very sure when you are being put under but Mr Lawson reassured me. He’s a great guy, really confident in what he does which in turn gives you confidence.

“When I woke up, I was told there had been a tear of the meniscus which acts like a little buffer between the bones. So it was a case of getting it trimmed a little bit. The club were great in that regard, the scan was done quickly, there were no ifs and buts, the procedure was done right away.”

Now McGregor is, he believes, halfway through his rehabilitation work and, he insisted, in a totally positive frame of mind.

He said: “It is frustrating, I am not going to lie. But I’m four weeks into a potential eight-week recovery. The specialist said it might be as long as ten weeks but, to be honest, I think that is being pessimistic although I’ll see him in a couple of weeks time and we can make a judgment.

“I’m very happy with the progress and so are the physio team. They’ve been excellent as has the strength and conditioning team. They have structured a full programme around me and I’ve been in five or six days a week working hard.

“I’m in a really positive frame of mind. I’ve had my fair share of bad injuries so I know what it is like to get down in the doldrums. But this time I have been really positive and the carrot is to get back playing again.

“It’s how you deal with it and putting your energy into rehabilitation and strengthening yourself so that when you do get back you are fully fit and raring to go.”