The Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu will not rush himself back into action, despite being desperate to play his part in what could be the biggest season of his career. The 23-year-old has been sidelined by a knee injury since helping the Ibrox club regain the SPL on the final day of last season.
The American confidently predicted he would return to action at the beginning of September and although he has declared he is close to returning, he will not make the same mistake again. That is because he is taking no chances on missing out on the second half of Rangers' first Champions League group campaign for two years and a first World Cup after the United States sealed their place in South Africa on Saturday.
"This could be a big year for me, probably the biggest of my career," Edu said. "I'm looking to make the most of it and it all starts here at the club. First of all, I need to get back in the Rangers team.
"I'm obviously anxious to get back playing again but, at the same time, I've got to be a little bit patient. Even though I know I'm very close to being fit again, I don't want to rush myself and try to come back too early and end up back on the treatment table.
"It's certainly exciting to be doing more things now – I'm out of the gym at last and I'm getting outside to do a bit of jogging. I'm just trying to stay level-headed and I'm not getting carried away. It was maybe a little naive to say I was looking to be back again in the second week of September.
"On reflection, I should just have taken things day by day. I would have loved to have been back playing earlier than this but it hasn't worked out.
"With that said, I still feel like I'm making progress and doing the right things I need to do to come back and be a stronger player," he said. "As simple as it sounds, I just want to kick a ball around again. I want to take a shot, chase somebody down, make a tackle and play a pass.
"I don't want to be feeling any niggles – I want to come back at a level where I'm not going to shy away from tackles because I'm scared of what might happen. I have good days and bad ones, too. As much as it's a physical battle with my body to get fit again, it's a mental one as well.
"As much as this game requires you to have a certain amount of ability, you also need to be a strong person and that's definitely the key to succeeding. Seeing the boys out on the training ground every day, playing in the SPL and Champions League is hard when you're restricted to working in the gym. It's difficult to miss out on them but it also makes you so much hungrier to get back out there and play beside them."
Edu's mood has been buoyed by his recuperating alongside Rangers team-mate Kirk Broadfoot, who has also yet to feature this term.
"We like to wind each other up and the guys in the dressing room call us Ebony and Ivory because we spend so much time together!" Edu joked. "It's always good to have someone beside you when you're going through your rehab. As much as it sucks that he's injured too, it means we have each other to lean on. Kirk is one of my good friends in the team and we've got a good relationship. We've just clicked really well and have similar interests."Reuse content