Lewis Holtby has confirmed that he has completed his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury – stating that a flying visit to Germany was the best decision he ever made.
The 29-year-old suffered a lateral ligament injury in the game against Middlesbrough on February 1st and subsequently required surgery.
After beginning his rehabilitation programme at Rovers’ Brockhall training base, the Coronavirus outbreak then added an unexpected obstacle on his road to recovery.
Faced with the prospect of having to do two months of rehab on his own in Manchester, Holtby quickly boarded a flight to Bremen, where he linked up with a professional physio who he has previously worked with.
And the former German international says it was a decision that has certainly paid off, as he feels fitter and stronger than before.
“I’m fine, I’m really well,” the midfield ace told iFollow Rovers.
“I think I’m done with my rehab process now. It’s been 12 weeks since the operation, I’ve been working really hard every day and the knee feels really good.
“I had a very productive week with Andy Mitchell, who is the head of physiotherapy at Rovers, but then because of the Coronavirus we had to find a new solution and because I have a physio who I have worked with very closely, I had to get to Germany to do my rehab in order to get fit.
“I wanted to take the ferry across, but it wasn’t possible, and all the flights were cancelled, so taking a private flight was the only solution. It was a case of either staying in my little flat in Manchester and doing the rehab on my own or getting back to Germany and working professionally and getting the best out of me in this period of time.
“It was definitely the right decision. Of course, the crisis we’re all in now is mental and there’s more important things, but at that stage I had to think about what’s going to happen after this time and I needed to get my knee fit.
“I’d just had an operation and I was three or four weeks into my rehab, and it was a very clinical time. So I had to make a decision based on my health and it was the best decision ever.
“The work we have done every day has really improved my body, I feel much fitter than I was before, so I’m really buzzing to come back to England and hopefully start playing football soon again and doing what I love and being back with the boys.”
Supporters were able to follow Holtby’s recovery in Germany, as he shared videos of his fitness and football sessions on social media, and the midfielder says being able to track his own personal progress was a very rewarding process.
“I do the videos for Andy Mitchell, to keep him up to date and let him have a look at what we’re doing and how we’re progressing,” he added.
“I think it’s quite interesting if you can follow a rehab of a professional footballer, especially in these times, so I put it online to give everybody a look at what we were doing, how we were working, how we were progressing and obviously the results week after week really improved.
“It’s unbelievable, when you go back to the start, from the first video to the last one, it’s always interesting to see how much you can do and how much you couldn’t do, and how much trust you get back into the knee and how much stronger you get.
“It’s been a tough ride, but it’s been an enjoyable ride to be fair.”
After undergoing surgery on February 11th, Holtby set himself a 12-week target to be back fully fit in time for Rovers’ final league fixture away to Luton Town.
And whilst he was pleased to have achieved his goal, he was naturally disappointed that the season had been suspended due to the pandemic – although he does still hope to play a part in Rovers’ run-in, should the current campaign resume.
“I have mixed feelings,” added Holtby.
“When I got injured, I asked the doctors how long it would take and they said this injury might take 12-14 weeks, depending on how well it’s going.
“So I was keen and focused from day one on trying to beat that mark. I wanted 11 weeks. So I said to myself I need to do everything I can, work doubly hard, take good care of my knee and be positive about it. That was the first thing. The mindset has to be right.
“And I stuck to it. I enjoyed every hard session. I enjoyed every sweat, every pain, just for this goal. A week ago, we should have played Luton.
“I would have been fit for it and I felt really good, but on the other hand, it gives me much more times for the upcoming games and I feel very thankful that I might be part of the rest of the season.”