Doncaster Rovers: The long road back for Danny Andrew
The light at the end of the tunnel has come into view for Danny Andrew.
After a long eight months of battling back to fitness, the full back is closing in on a return to action with the Doncaster Rovers first team.
A promising start to life at the club was cut brutally short with a cruciate ligament injury.
And it certainly proved to be a big blow for Rovers who struggled for a solution to his absence for a long time.
The road to his return is almost at its end. But it has been a long one to say the least.
“It was so hard to take,” Andrew told the Free Press.
“I did it three minutes into the Wimbledon game and we didn’t even know until the Monday when he had the scan.
“I’d gone from playing a game, not coming off injured to two days later being out for the season.
“It was so hard to take.
“You have a bad spell at first where you’re all over the place but once you get your head around it you think my attitude has got to change to my rehab and making sure my knee is the best it can be.
“That changes you. It changes you as a person and makes who appreciate what you do every day for a living.
“Now I just take every day as it comes and just carry on doing what I’m doing.
“Hopefully, the gaffer has said he’s going to get me some minutes and I hope that happens and I do make an appearance.”
Andrew could be involved in a matchday squad for Rovers as soon as this weekend after proving the strength of his knee for the club’s Development Squad last week.
While the delight at unexpectedly featuring this season will be palpable for the 28-year-old, he will be relishing the prospect of playing regular football next season.
His injury brought to a crashing halt his hopes of establishing himself as a League One player having endured an injury-hit spell with Fleetwood in the past.
And he said being denied an opportunity to do that this term was very difficult to accept.
Andrew said: “That was massive for me mentally as well when I did it.
“When I was at Fleetwood I had a few injuries that kept me out for quite a while.
“Then I came here for another chance in League One, and although I started the season well in August, it ended in heartbreak because I couldn’t do any more.
“I’d done everything I could to that point and then that was it, my season was finished.
“Obviously you support the lads but you sit there in the stands thinking ‘imagine if it didn’t happen, I could still be out there.’
“It’s just the way that football goes, it’s part of the game.”
Last summer was a big one in the life of Andrew as he switched clubs and also welcomed son Carter into the world.
Though being laid up for a few months was not ideal with a new baby in the house, his son provided the ideal distraction from his woes.
“That kept me occupied,” he said.
“It was tough to begin with on my fiancee because I was on crutches and couldn’t get around. If Carter needed settling then I couldn’t get up and do it.
“It was tough on all of us really.
“But it’s been good in another way because I’ve not had to go on the away trips so I could have the weekend with my family.
“At the end of the day I would have loved to have been playing.
“But if you can’t do something, you’ve got to make the most of the other things and that was spending time with my family.
“It takes your mind off it.
“But you still get to Saturday at three o’clock, watching Sky Sports News, thinking ‘I wish I was out there.’
“A little bit of stress comes with that.
“Luckily I’ve not had any setbacks with my rehab so, touchwood, it stays that way and I’m fine now.”
Throughout his absence, Andrew’s name has not been far away from the lips of Rovers supporters.
He is appreciative of the support he has received during his time out of action and determined to show he was worth waiting for.
“I had a lot of support when it was announced what I’d done,” he said.
“The lads and the physios have been unbelievable with me. The gaffer has been very patient with me and left it to me to decide when I’m ready, when my head is ready, my knee is ready.
“It’s all been communicated really well.
“I’m very cautious right now but my knee feels really well.”
The light at the end of the tunnel is finally in full view.