Gary’s back in the game Defender puts injury agony
Gary MacKenzie has been living a nightmare.
The St Mirren centre half has seen injury after injury plague his season – but he insists it could have been a lot worse.
An undiagnosed concussion picked up in the season’s opener against Falkirk saw him produce a shadow of the performance expected the following week in the Renfrewshire derby, in a defeat which saw the Saints thumped 4-1.
“I shouldn’t have played in that game,” concedes MacKenzie. “It was my own fault.” He has hardly been seen since. After admitting to the club doctor that things just weren’t right, MacKenzie was signed off as he looked to recover from the head knock which he reveals saw him unable to recall even playing in the game at Cappielow. Everything else was just a blur. It was a scary period for MacKenzie, who had hoped to kick on from his debut campaign which had saw him pick up several player of year awards.
But now back in full training, with an outside chance of featuring against Brechin this weekend, MacKenzie has opened up on his fight to get himself back in the reckoning.
“I hadn’t been feeling great the week in the run-up to the Morton game,” he told Express Sport. “I just wasn’t feeling well but I didn’t want to say – I wanted to play.
“But I spoke to the gaffer after the Morton game because he pulled me in because he felt I wasn’t myself.
“Anyone that was at that game would tell you that wasn’t how I play football.
“I couldn’t explain to him what it was I was doing, I couldn’t remember the actual game and when I tried to piece together the week before it I just couldn’t do it at all.
“At that point the doctor stepped in and gave me the guidelines, and there was a couple of weeks I couldn’t do much.
“It’s been really hard mentally. But once you get your head round the fact that it’s not going to be a quick fix then you just need to knuckle down and do the rehab that is required to get back in the side.
“It was tough because for the first time in around four years I had completed a full pre-season. After last season, where I managed to play a lot of games and finish the season really well I was looking to push on.
“Everything was going well throughout pre-season and then I picked up a concussion against Falkirk, then tore my Achilles in a practice match. I had torn my Achilles before so I think that made it worse because I knew that there was a long road ahead. I felt like I was back to square one after feeling on top of the world for the first time in a long time.”
The Achilles injury that followed only served as another hammer blow to the defender who played a massive role in St Mirren avoiding the drop.
Universally revered by the Saints support, MacKenzie’s woes were felt throughout the support as the Buddies battled to make a good start to the campaign.
For MacKenzie, the training ground and treatment room, so often the bane during his career, has become a solace for the mountain of a defender.
Coming into Ralston everyday provided the 32-year-old with the goal of getting back into the side, while a Saturday has been best served in the stands providing support for his teammates.
Admittedly, it has been tougher than he expected to watch on.
But with just over a week under his belt back in full-training, MacKenzie insists the time is now to get a smile back on his face.
He added: “Now being on the pitch with the boys, you feel part of it again. When you are injured then you feel like you aren’t involved. That is hard.
“Getting over that is one step. The next step is to get back out there on the pitch.
“But I’m just taking each day as it comes. If I am enjoying my
Smiling once more Gary MacKenzie