Ifill: Recovery on track but future uncertain

PAUL IFILL
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014

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OPINION: The Phoenix season ends after today's game against Melbourne Victory and, like many players at the club, my contract expires at the end of the month.

It is a very uncertain time for players and even more so for myself, given my serious Achilles injury.

I spoke with our coach Ernie Merrick this week and was pleased to hear that, despite my contract ending, he is happy for me to remain at the club to complete my rehab.

Given that the club is not obligated to do this, I am very grateful for the generous offer.

I am aiming to make a comeback to football later this year and hope to continue my career at the Phoenix.

But much could happen between now and then.

If playing on isn't possible, I have been lucky enough to be able to try my hand at a few things of late and I enjoy the media aspect of football.

With only rehab to concentrate on, it has given me plenty of time to contemplate my future and plan for life after football just in case things don't go as expected.

But after weeks of small setbacks and little progress, I've started to make some breakthroughs.

I spent last weekend in Sydney doing TV work for Fox Sports and after coming home my Achilles has decided to play ball and things have moved forward significantly.

I used to struggle to walk without limping but all of a sudden the countless hours spent in the gym doing calf raises and other monotonous exercises seem to be actually making a difference.

All of the strength work is helping me ready my Achilles for jogging and thankfully that is now within touching distance.

Those of you who have watched me during my five seasons here know that I'm not one to run for the sake of it.

But right now I'd give anything to be able to close down a fullback or track back and attempt a tackle!

A few weeks after my surgery, Perth Glory fullback Scott Jamieson contacted me via Twitter.

Scott ruptured his Achilles one month before me and was happy to offer advice and answer any of my questions, which has been a real help.

Scott is only weeks away from a full recovery which is great news, although I found it hard to understand why he was so far ahead.

Obviously age is a factor as I'm a few years older and have had a few setbacks whereas Scott's recovery has been pretty straightforward.

But after taking time to think, I have renewed optimism.

If he can do it against the odds, in record time, surely I can do it even if it takes a while longer.

With the season ending today, this will be my final column, although you can continue to follow me on Twitter@PaulIfill.

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I hope to entertain you on the field again next season!

- Wellington

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