Seven months have passed since Iris Achterhof suffered the first serious of her career – but the Durham Women striker is now firmly on the comeback trail.
Achterhof suffered an ACL injury moments after entering the field against Liverpool on the opening day of the season, and was then ruled-out of the remainder of the campaign.
But having returned to some elements of field-based training in recent weeks, Achterhof is moving ever-closer to a return to full training.
And when The Wildcat caught-up with the striker this week, she was in a positive mood as her comeback continues.
“I’m doing well,” she said.
“I’m back into training with passing and shooting, so that’s nice. I’ve still got a long way to go though.
“I’m used to running a lot, but having the ball at your feet is something else.
“It makes everything better. During the day you look forward to training again just because you can touch the ball, pass with your teammates and stuff. It’s so much better.”
While long-term injuries can naturally take their toll physically, so too can they prove a drain mentally.
But Achterhof has praised the impact of her teammates and club staff in ensuring her morale has remained high during a testing time.
“It’s such a big deal that the team and everyone at the club is around you and helping you every step of the way,” she admitted.
“There hasn’t been a point when I’ve been really down about the injury, because everyone around me keeps talking to me and training with me.
“It’s been great, to be fair.”
But that’s not to say there haven’t been some moments of frustration.
The striker has been a regular attendee at home games this season and – while she has been vocally backing her colleagues from the sidelines – can’t help but wish she was able to cross the white line.
“It’s when you watch the games and want to be part of it to try and help the team,” Achterhof expalined.
“It’s been seven months since I’ve done it, but it honestly feels like a month ago because the time has flown by.
“There’s five more months to go now, and hopefully that’s the same and I’ll be back on the field in no time.”
So what next for the striker?
A return to the first-team fold is likely still a while away, with Achterhof set to be gradually re-introduced to training under the careful watch of the club’s medical team in the coming weeks and months.
And for that reason, the striker is keen not to look too far ahead as she eyes a return to action.
“Honestly, I’m not looking forward too much.
“I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and help the team out as much as possible.”