Aug 13 2013 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
TRANMERE hope James Wallace has moved into the final phase of a long and difficult comeback road from a knee ligament injury.
The Rovers skipper is spending the next two weeks at the FA’s National football centre at St George’s Park in Staffordshire after undergoing a second operation on the knee a fortnight ago.
The coaching staff hope that if all goes well, Wallace will be able to start playing football again in September and pick up where he left off when he sustained the injury last December.
Assistant manager John McMahon says Wallace has shown a “fantastic” attitude in dealing with the disappointments and setbacks of the last eight months and continues to fulfil his off-the-field responsibilities as captain with enthusiasm.
McMahon said: “It’s been a long road and a drain on the lad but fair play to him, I think he’s shown a fantastic attitude.
“He’s been in every day and worked extremely hard. He’s had setback after setback and he keeps rising to the challenge. Hopefully this is the last hill for him to climb. It will be great to have him back in the group on the training ground.”
McMahon added: “James still acts like he is captain of the club. He still encourages and pushes people and he still telling people off, even though he’s not on the pitch.
“He’s in the dressing room before and after games. He shows his support in ways which I think are important.”
Wallace underwent surgery at the end of July to move a staple pinning the ligament in his knee to a different position. The player felt the staple was responsible for causing pain and discomfort when he attempted twisting and turning and running in a zigzag pattern.
This is Wallace’s second visit to St George’s Park, where his rehabilitation will be under the supervision of FA specialists in the field.
McMahon said: “It is a different environment for James and one that can benefit him.
“We have a very good physio, Gregg Blundell and you’ve got to give our medical staff credit for varying the work they have done with James. Even so, things can get on top of you after so many months looking at the same four walls. James will have a change of voice and the change of environment.
“He’s not too far away now. If all goes well we would like to think that when he comes back from St Georges Park, we can look at involving him in some of the reserve team games coming up.”
Wallace has not played since suffering the injury in an FA Cup tie against Chesterfield at the end of December.
“He is such a valuable player for us on and off the pitch,” McMahon said. “We have missed his presence in the dressing room. He is a strong character. We don’t have enough of them and that’s part of the problem. They are all too nice as a group.”
McMahon says it is no surprise that some of the strongest characters in the Tranmere squad, including Wallace, Andy Robinson and new signing Ryan Lowe, are Merseysiders.
“It is something we look for,” McMahon said.
“Certain managers around the country like to recruit players from Liverpool and the Merseyside area, because of the toughness they seem to have. They have a never-say-die attitude.
“It is always good to have local players in the squad for any club but for us I think it is vital.”