Van der Saag’s vow to make United impact

Harry Van der Saag is down but nowhere near out after a ‘frustrating’ spell on the sidelines.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

Harry Van der Saag is down but nowhere near out after a ‘frustrating’ spell on the sidelines.

The explosive wingback has been missing from action after a training mishap in late-November caused a large tear in his medial meniscus.

It is one of the more troublesome injuries in the 23-year-old’s young career, who has returned to running this week in a major milestone in the rehabilitation process.

It was an untimely occurrence for the rising defender-come-attacker who was enjoying a fruitful start to his first United campaign that included a debut goal against his former side, Sydney FC, when the two sides met in the third game of the season.

“That’s football,” he said. “You have to go through these sorts of things which ideally makes you more resilient in the end.

“I’ve had a lot of support from the players and the staff, so they’ve made it a lot easier for me.

“You have to take each day as it is and try and remain as mentally strong as possible because it can be quite lonely at times in the gym, and I’ve moved from interstate so that adds an element of isolation at times.

“But Carl (Veart), the players, and all the support staff have really gotten around me so I can’t wait to repay them when I get back on the field.”

Van der Saag will next look to further add sprinting as boxes to tick in his next phase of rehab after an arduous five months in the gym spent exclusively on weights, or the grinder and assault bike machines.

“I’ll now be ramping it up each week until I can reach certain speeds and feel confident changing direction,” he explained.

“Still I’m taking it slow overall at the moment because I want to recover fully, and fortunately the boys are flying.

“If everything goes right then finals could be a possibility for me in that 3-4 week window, but I’ll be taking it day by day.

“I’d love to help us get some silverware in my first year with the Club, and the guys are playing some really good football at the moment, so anything is possible.”

Van der Saag arrived last June and immediately impressed Veart and his staff through his work ethic, and it was one that was originally spotted by his Head Coach two years prior.

Just like his ‘Bruiser’ status, a nickname given to him by a mate back home in Sydney and extended by former Sky Blues teammate turned Reds teammate, Ben Warland, it would take a lot to keep his spirits down for too long.

It is also affectionately used amongst Van der Saag’s carpooling squad, containing Javi López, James Delianov, and fellow ‘Rehab Club’ member, Juande.

“We still carpool occasionally to training together and to be honest I think this keeps the spirits up with all the banter and singing and DJ attempts,” he said.

“We saw Juande go down with a severe injury as well and that in itself puts a football career into perspective, yet his attitude has been so positive throughout.

“So that has helped me a lot and of course the physios are always so great in checking in and getting me to where I am now.”

While Van der Saag returned home to Sydney over the Easter weekend briefly to spend time with his family, he has found a peaceful and enjoyable lifestyle in Adelaide in contrast to a bustling Sydney routine.

Harry Van der Saag progressing with his recovery at Coopers Stadium.

It will continue also, with Van der Saag secured on a two-year deal and plenty of time for retribution should a comeback in 2022/23 prove out of reach.

“I’m enjoying Adelaide and everything about it,” he said.

“It’s a really nice city and a bit more slow-paced than Sydney in a great way, and it’s been a nice change.

“Even though I haven’t been too active with the injury, I’ve been getting around the City and the regions like Carrickalinga for one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.”

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