If there’s a Wil, there’s a way: Wilmering’s return from a 14-month injury

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Spending 14 months on the sidelines with a knee injury would be enough to crush the spirit of any young athlete, but Daniel Wilmering is not one of them.

The young fullback has been a revelation for the Western Sydney Wanderers this season, so much so that you would never believe what he had experienced in the past year.

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Back in 2019, Wilmering’s rookie year in the A-League came to a screeching halt when he suffered a freak injury at training. The teenager ruptured his ACL, while also straining his MCL and PCL.

It was a bleak situation, but Wilmering – who grew up in western Sydney and was a ball boy for the Wanderers in their first professional match before joining the club’s youth team – has come out the other end of it stronger.

After spending all of 2020 in the Wanderers’ casualty ward, he made his long-awaited return from injury when he came on from the bench in a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory in February.

He started the Wanderers’ next game at left wing-back and has not looked back since.

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The 20-year-old assisted two goals in his first two starts, and then scored one for himself on his way to becoming a regular starter and earning his first ever professional contract.

And while he spent 14 months with his career on hold, Wilmering never had any doubt he would bounce back from injury.

“I always knew I could,” he said.

“My desire to get back onto the field was all the motivation I needed.

“I had youth on my side so I could always take the extra time to recover if I needed to. It took a while, but once I got back onto the pitch and started playing some games my knee felt really good. Fingers crossed it stays that way.”

While Wilmering always had the confidence he could get back onto the pitch, he was boosted by a strong support network.

This included veteran goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic, who knows Wilmering’s situation all too well.

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Janjetovic has not played a minute of football in almost two years since suffering a serious shoulder injury, and spent plenty of time alongside Wilmering in the Wanderers’ casualty ward. The pair were able to help each other through their injury hells, for which Wilmering is extremely grateful.

“I had really good support around me,” he said.

“From my family, my friends, the Wanderers staff and my teammates, especially Vedran Janjetovic.

“I had Vedran with me in the gym every day doing rehab. He really supported me, and I think we’ve helped each other a lot through the injury process.

“I’m not sure exactly where he’s at now with his injury, but I’m sure he’ll be alright in the end.”

Wilmering now has 12 games under his belt since his return, establishing himself as coach Carl Robinson’s first choice in the left wing-back position.

And while his performances have been impressive, he certainly is not getting carried away.

“I’m relatively happy [with my performances],” Wilmering said.

“I’ve played OK but personally I don’t think I’ve played at the level I know I can. I can always improve and I’m just hoping I can do that and stay fit and healthy.

“I know I’ve still got so much more to give and a long way to go to reach my potential.”

Feature Image Credit: Steve Christo

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Jye Campbell
Journalism student at Western Sydney. Love my football (#lazoumance) and rugby league (#pantherpride). Advocate for FIFA Career Modes. Covering Western Sydney Wanderers in both A-League and W-League for the 2020/21 season.
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