Spotlight: Neil opens up about 18 months of pain

Two years ago, Dan Neil thought his career was over.

Now, 16, the first-year scholar is enjoying a breakthrough season with the under-23s and he has even had a sniff of first-team action.

After being struck down with a potentially career ending knee injury, Neil recalls stamping his foot against the turf as he looked to knock the pain, he was experiencing during an under-14 tournament in Warwick, out. 

Surgery followed in London and so to did a lengthy 18-month spell on the sidelines, with a career in football looking unlikely. 

“The injury came at a bad time for me,” Neil reflected.

“I had just been playing for England against the USA, got my scholarship and I was on a real rise before the injury hit.” 

However, progress has been sweet and Neil is back playing the sport he craves, taking each day as a blessing as he looks to make up for lost time perusing a dream that at one stage, he looked unlikely to fulfil.

“Everyone has to deal with adversity and comeback, and I think I’ve managed to do that.

“Each time I step onto the grass now I am just grateful because at one point it might not have happened.

“I didn’t expect to have achieved what I have done at all this season because my aim was just to get into the under-23s at the end of the season.

“Getting a sniff at Morecambe of the first team was great. Like I said, the first-team have been great, it makes you work harder and it makes you want it even more. 

“Elliott (Dickman) has been the same and given me a number of chances to play in the under-23s and hopefully I can kick on to the first-team.”

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