St Johnstone striker Chris Kane has admitted he “wasn’t in a good place” when the tunnel of his injury ordeal was at its darkest.
In the middle of a 16-month lay-off, problems and set-backs were coming in the double-winner’s direction far more frequently than solutions.
And doubts about there ever being a time when he would be able to put knee, quad and calf problems behind him and get back in a Saints shirt were creeping into his head.
“There were loads of times I thought that,” Kane admitted.
“I’d never heard of the knee injury I had – it was a chondral defect, they call it.
“Part of the cartilage that’s attacked to the femur bone came away and had to be replaced with a bit you don’t put weight through.
“The surgeons said I would be out between three and six months but by the end of that period I still couldn’t walk without pain.
“After that it was a case of different specialists and physios giving their opinions and getting some injections.
“Nobody could really get to the bottom of it. We tried everything.
“Fans were seeing me at games and I was getting asked when I thought I’d be back.
“I couldn’t give them an answer.
Two years ago today, Chris Kane set Saints on their way to their second major final of the season. Hopefully not too long before we see him back in blue. Been badly missed. pic.twitter.com/TlAYCHfIAK
— St Johnstone 1884 (@stjohnstone1884) May 9, 2023
“It was a case of waiting until the knee felt well enough for me to run.
“By about January I was making progress and I played a friendly against Arbroath.
“And then after that it was niggles in other areas that kept me out – my quad and then my calf.”
Even with the long injuries like cruciate tears and leg breaks, step by step advances usually smooth the rough edges of an athlete’s recuperation.
For too long, Kane didn’t even have that.
“It was devastating coming in every day and not making progress,” he said. “Horrible.
“It’s hard to explain. I’m not saying I was depressed but I wasn’t in a good place.
“The boys are great here and they were trying to keep me going but there’s only so much you can say.
“Some days I couldn’t even spin on the bike.
“It was really hard to see them go out training and then come back, laughing and joking, while I wasn’t part of it.”
That Kane has eventually come through this injury nightmare, got back into the Saints squad and scored a goal in the final match of last season, speaks to his mental strength.
His first goal back after over a year out of football! 😍
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) May 29, 2023
So, the challenge of turning his latest short-term contract into a more substantial one doesn’t faze the 28-year-old.
“I want to play as much football as I can after missing out on so much,” he said.
“I’ve signed a six-month deal and I’ll be trying to prove my fitness and prove that I deserve to be back in the team, hopefully scoring goals again.
“The last thing I wanted was to leave here without giving it a good go again after being with the club for so long.
“I know I’m nowhere near finished.
“It was going through my head that I might not be offered anything.
“I know how hard it would have been for the manager to make decisions about who he would keep so it’s a big compliment that he wants me to stay.
“Hopefully I can prove to him that I am still an asset.
“I’ve had a lot of challenges in my career and I’m always up for another one.”
For Kane there was a pre-pre-season to make sure his May momentum wasn’t lost.
“I did quite a bit of work while I was away on holiday with my family,” he said. “My missus wasn’t too happy with me about that because she was stuck with the wee one!
“I was running and doing gym sessions, whatever I could to keep myself fit.
“It was the same when I came back to Scotland – night time runs to keep ticking over.
“Now we’ve started pre-season and I want to make sure I’m involved in as many of the friendlies as I can and be ready for the competitive ones.”