Jo Love insists retiring is not an option after returning to Glasgow City

It happened in the 17th minute after a challenge with Kirsten Reilly (now at Crystal Palace) and also earned Love a yellow card. The numbers were switched against Aberdeen at Balmoral Stadium, with the midfielder returning from the bench after 71 minutes.

Love, who won the first of her 189 caps against Canada in 2002, was back in the stands in Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over Motherwell. Both the player and interim head coach Leanne Ross understand the need for a carefully staged return after such a long layoff.

Love, now 37, says she hadn’t thought about retirement even as the normal nine-month ACL recovery time nearly doubled. Instead, she says it reignited her passion for a sport that has graced her for so long.

“I had a lot of trouble at first,” she said. “I probably couldn’t walk properly for the first seven months.

“I’ve been back a few times to see the surgeon and a number of physical therapists. The idea was that we just hung there and waited for it to go away.

“After about eleven or twelve months I could walk properly. In the last four months it wasn’t really my knee – other parts of my body that I wasn’t using were getting to me.

“There were days I would come to practice thinking I could take a step forward with how recovery is going, then suddenly I took a step back. That would bring tears to my eyes at times, but overall it hasn’t been long that I’ve felt down.

“I was probably thinking about retirement before I got injured. It would be completely wrong to say that this gave me a new zest for life, but it gave me a new motivation.

“I realized how much I actually missed the games – not the practice or the gym, just being at the games in that moment. It was really nice to sniff it again, but it’s happening slowly.

“I’ve been on teams that have played at Euros and in the Champions League quarter-finals, but last Sunday was probably the most nervous I’ve ever gone into a game. I’m not afraid of something happening again – it’s just a feeling you have every week and then suddenly it’s gone for a very large chunk of the time.”

THE SWPL game of the season so far will be played this afternoon at the Excelsior in front of the BBC Alba cameras. Celtic and Glasgow City are not only the two most in-form sides in the league, they’ve also been the most entertaining of recent weeks.

Leaders City have scored 48 goals and conceded just two in the ten games since Leanne Ross took over as caretaker. Nine were wins, the other a 0-0 draw against Rangers.

Celtic were also very impressive, no more so than nine nights ago in their 3-0 win over Rangers at tonight’s venue. They start three points behind their opponents but will go ahead on goal difference if they become the first team to beat City in the league this season.

The flip side of the coin – a City win – would put the former Match 14 champion in a very strong position. They would be six points ahead of Celtic and at least seven ahead of Rangers, who play Spartans at Ainslie Park.

Both City and Celtic appear to have recruited really well in the January window. Ross was particularly impressed by Sweden full-back Anna Oscarsson and South African midfielder Linda Motlhalo – the former with more physicality and the latter with subtlety.

Ditto for Fran Alonso at Celtic. Leicester City striker Natasha Flint made her name on loan in the win against Rangers, scoring her first two goals for the club against Hamilton Accies in midweek.

American Hana Kerner has brought power and pace to the right side of midfield, while the more established Shen Menglu has caught the eye with his recent displays down the left. The penultimate round of play before the league was split into Top 6 and Bottom 6 offered an extremely fascinating game. Jo Love insists retiring is not an option after returning to Glasgow City

Russell Falcon

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