Sheffield United: Blades new man of steel

Midfielder Stephen McGinn is hoping to feature prominently in Sheffield United's promotion push this season, having fully recovered from his serious knee injury. Picture: Martyn Harrison.

Midfielder Stephen McGinn is hoping to feature prominently in Sheffield United's promotion push this season, having fully recovered from his serious knee injury. Picture: Martyn Harrison.

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New Blades recruit Stephen McGinn is convinced his injury-hit spell at Watford has added an extra layer of steel to his personality.

After enduring some of the “toughest days of his life” at Vicarage Road, the midfielder feels his injury problems are now behind him and he has set his sights on playing a big part in Sheffield United’s promotion push this season.

It was in February 2011 when McGinn sustained cruciate knee ligament damage after in an innocuous collision while playing for the Hornets against Doncaster Rovers. The knock kept the Scot on the sidelines for 15 months and he did not play a competitive match for nearly two years.

“The first couple of weeks out after the operation were quite easy because I kept telling myself that I am going to work hard and that I would beat this injury,” he said. “But months and months into rehab were probably some of the toughest days of my life.

“I found myself doing the same exercises for three months, the lads would have had a good win on Saturday and I’d be back in the gym.”

Having struggled to force his way back into the first-team set-up at Watford, McGinn was farmed out on loan to Shrewsbury Town in the second half of last season. The former Scotland Under-21 international went on to make 18 appearances for the Shrews, hitting two goals, including one against United.

McGinn, who has penned a two-year deal with United, said: “I loved my time at Watford. They are a great club and really looked after me. I wouldn’t change what happened. I feel stronger mentally and physically from the injury.

“I use those feelings from the dark times as motivation to keep going now.

“The loan spell at Shrewsbury was to get me back playing real football again and to see if I could handle the Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday schedule. I felt really good there and I never had any issues with my knee. I never missed a training session, never mind a game. I feel like I have beaten it.”