Manchester United defender Aoife Mannion could return to action in January, having continued to make good progress in her ongoing recovery from a second ACL injury in recent years.
Mannion, who previously missed 16 months due to an ACL tear in 2019, underwent surgery in mid-March after sustaining a fresh injury in a Continental Cup clash with Chelsea a few weeks earlier.
In August, the centre-back described herself as being at the ‘meatier’ end of her rehab programme, having made the successful transition to training back on grass and constantly building up her physical workload with more intense and demanding drills.
“I think we’re probably looking at game-ready in January, but she’s progressing really nicely and has been excellent in her rehab, so positive news on that,” United boss Marc Skinner said as he gave a fresh update on the player's condition.
“She’s ready when she’s ready, but it’s looking positive in terms of her reaction to the training.”
Having made the switch from sky blue to red after her departure from Manchester City in the summer of 2021, Mannion had been a key player for United last season until being ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Millie Turner was also ruled out with a long-term issue at that time, which threatened to put extra strain on an already stretched defence.
But once Mannion is fully fit and able to return, she will further boost the improving back-line.
Turner resumed training during the summer after overcoming a serious health problem and was able to start the opening game of the WSL season last weekend alongside summer arrival Maya Le Tissier, who has transitioned into the centre of defence after starring at right-back for Brighton.
That left Aissatou Tounkara, another new arrival on the bench. Maria Thorisdottir, who joined United from Chelsea in January 2021, was another unused substitute for that game.