After a gruelling 15 months sidelined with an ACL injury, sustained in the Champions League win over LSK Kvinner in November 2017, the defender is now back in contention and eager to aid the Blues’ quest for a domestic treble.
It’s been a long road to recovery for the 25-year-old – challenging both physically and mentally – and Campbell has opened up on her journey from setback to strength and hopefully, success…
“It feels brilliant to be back,” she told ManCity.com. “It’s been a long road with some bumps but finally, I’m at the end of the tunnel, looking forward to getting back out on the pitch with the girls.
“When you total it up now – 15 months – it seems like it’s gone fast but there were so many moments when I thought to myself: this is taking forever!
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“Of course, with an ACL injury, it’s very serious and at times, you even question whether you will ever play again. I had those anxieties and it’s probably the most mentally tough thing I’ve experienced in my career.
“Overall, the past 15 months have been a rollercoaster of emotions. It wasn’t just my injury – I also lost two grandparents, so it was really difficult.
“The team and the people around me – my family and friends – helped get me through. Otherwise, I’d probably still be in recovery.
“Not having my family around me all the time was hard but from those moments, I’ve grown a lot as a person and I understand myself more – what I need and what my body needs.
“I’ve also learned to accept that there are always tough days but at the end, there are good days. That’s what gets you through – taking the positives from the tough days and working with them.
“For the first month – Christmas 2017 – I couldn’t do too much. It’s all about milestones – walking without a limp, walking without pain; then lifting in the gym, slowly getting back running…
“There were setbacks but you have to keep positive and just focus on achieving the next milestone. The first time I ran without pain was a big thing and then when I stopped having pain in my knee, it was incredible.
“Gradually, I went on from there: getting back on the ball; then taking part in specific drills or positional work. It was so nice to feel like a footballer again.
“Finally, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once I got back in full training, I was joking with the staff, saying that I always come back in the spring, having missed the cold weather, the rain and the snow!
“Looking back, I think the toughest thing overall was when the team were travelling and I couldn’t be part of it. It’s tough not to be with them, experiencing the ups and downs.
“You’d think it’s harder watching the team winning but after a loss, you wonder whether you’d have been able to help – off the pitch or on it.
“That’s one aspect where recovery can be lonely. You’re quite isolated generally but I have a lot of friends in the team, who have been there throughout, helping me up when I’ve been down.
“I have a great relationship with Pauline Bremer in particular, as we went through recovery together. I suffered my injury about a month after hers and one of the first things I thought was: I’m glad Pauline won’t be going through recovery alone.
“That’s how I looked at it: as a chance to help her. I’d been there before. I knew what it was like and I knew how down she was.
“She was new to the Club and it’s not easy, suffering something like that at a new team, especially when English isn’t your first language and you don’t know the area.
“We helped each other big time and now, we work well together on and off the pitch. We’re looking forward to playing together. We’ve even joked that I’ll provide the assist for her first goal since her return! As she hasn’t scored it yet, I’m taking it that she’s holding out for my comeback!
“Personally, I’m just hoping to kick on now, building some minutes first of all.
“Gradually, I want to be in a position to give the girls some more competition for places and see where it takes me.
“I suppose I can draw from my own experience. In 2017, when I came back from injury, I played at Wembley in the FA Cup Final and played a big part in helping the team to win it. That was an amazing feeling, especially as my family was there.
“Hopefully, they can see me lift three trophies this year. I have the belief we can do it and we’re not going to stop fighting until the end.”