Manchester United centre-back Millie Turner has returned to pre-season training early ahead of the 2022/23 WSL campaign as she looks to work on her fitness following a lengthy absence.
Turner has been one of United’s key players since the club reformed a first-team squad in 2018, but concern over a problem with an artery in her neck discovered in January led to an indefinite layoff.
The 25-year-old, whose form saw her called up for an England training camp in September 2020, was successfully treated but the club continued to understandably exercise considerable care, caution and patience with regard to her return to action.
Turner has been missed by United, with the club turning to veteran defender Diane Caldwell as a short-term addition in the January transfer window. Fellow centre-back Aoife Mannion then suffered an ACL injury in early February, ruling her out for the long-term, and manager Marc Skinner actually finished the season by consistently picking midfielder Hayley Ladd at the back.
Skinner confirmed in late February that Turner was ‘way past the worst’ of the problem. Despite being unavailable for matches, she was still involved in non-contact training in order to maintain her fitness levels as best as possible. She also continued to travel with the squad for matches.
An update from assistant coach Martin Ho in late April revealed that Turner was continuing to make progress but there was no rush because the recovery process takes time.
Turner was subsequently granted extended leave shortly before the end of the WSL campaign and used it to travel to the United States for a long break.
But she has now returned to Manchester and is already back on the training pitch.
Turner’s contract with United runs until the end of this month but the club holds an option to extend the deal for another 12 months until 2023.
United are looking to strengthen the centre of defence in the market this summer, although attacking positions - striker, 'number 10', winger and central midfielder - have been more of a priority after failing to kill off a number of games from winning positions last season.
United forward Alessia Russo is believed to have rejected an offer to extend her contract.