DONCASTER Rovers Belles’ star Sue Smith has spent more time kicking her heels than the ball since joining the FA Women’s Super League (WSL) club during the winter.
The veteran England star - the club’s biggest-name signing for a number of years - tore her cruciate knee ligament in the first half of her competitive debut for John Buckley’s side in the FA Cup game at Barnet.
Even though she had the injury diagnosed and operated on by a top surgeon within a fortnight, the bubbly 32 year-old knew that 2012 would be a write-off.
“I was gutted,” she recalled this week. “I’d just been away with the England camp and done well and was hopeful of getting back into Hope Powell’s plans after being left out of the 2011 World Cup squad.
“I was also looking forward to playing for Belles. I had been flying in pre-season and was raring to go.
“One of the reasons I joined the Belles was to play at the Keepmoat Stadium which is easily the best in the league.
“I played there for Lincoln last season and I was really looking forward to playing there on a regular basis.”
Not that she would have played more than the odd game at the ground this season had she been fit with Belles having had a glut of away games for various reasons..
“It’s not ideal because you want to be playing home and away on a regular basis if possible,” said Smith. “But at least we are going to have a lot of home games later in the season.”
Buoyed by the fact that the specialist told her the knee, apart from the ligament injury, which needed a piece of hamstring from her other leg as part of the reconstruction, was in good condition for someone her age and football experience, Smith is looking forward to playing again in 2013.
“My rehabilitation is going well and although I only signed a one year contract I’ll definitely be here next season,” she told The Star. “The club have been so good to me I and I want to repay them.”
As well as looking forward to boosting Belles’ WSL prospects, Smith also not given up hope of adding to her England caps.
Although not playing, Liverpool-born Smith is still having an influence at the club.
“Although I don’t like watching games and would be happy staying at home and just being told the result, I’ve been sat in the dug-out alongside manager John Buckley and helping out where I can,” she said. “If I feel that I can help out one of the players either before or during a game, then I will. You tend to find that the girls are a lot more open than men and they are always willing to listen to advice if they think it will make them a better.player.”
Like everyone else connected with the club, Smith is disappointed to see them fail to make an impression in the WFA Cup, and propping up the WSL table.
“We played well in defeat at Bristol on Saturday and we just need a result to kick-start our season,” she said.
“Hopefully we’ll get that at Lincoln on Wednesday. I might have played in both games for Lincoln against Belles last season, but I’m 100 per cent wanting the Belles to win.”