Manchester United defender Millie Turner is determined to recapture her best form and become ‘stronger’ after recovering from an alarming health problem affecting an artery in her neck.
Turner was indefinitely ruled out of action in January upon the discovery of a rare carotid artery dissection.
Her enforced absence was extremely sudden, actually featuring on the cover of the matchday programme for an in-depth interview on the same day that the club announced her immediate withdrawal from all physical activity while she was treated.
Treatment began straight away and even as early as February United boss Marc Skinner had confirmed that Turner was ‘way past the worst’ of things. But utmost care and caution has been taken with her recovery timeframe and there has been no attempt to rush anything.
From that stage, Turner was already able to engage in non-contact training to maintain her general fitness and continued to travel with the squad on matchdays.
She was later granted an extended holiday shortly before the end of the WSL season but returned for early pre-season training in June ahead of the rest of the squad reporting for duty.
Now, after a month of light training under her belt, the 26-year-old has been declared fit enough for full training and has spoken about her condition and her journey for the first time.
“I could hear a heartbeat in my ear,” Turner told ManUtd.com.
“My speech was slurring a little bit, the heartbeat in my ear was getting a lot worse and then yeah, I just couldn’t really focus, and I thought ‘something’s not right here’.
“I told the doctor straight away. He booked me in for a load of other tests and literally the next day after that, I found out that I had this injury.”
Prior to her lengthy absence, Turner had been one of United’s key players since the squad’s formation in 2018. By the start of the 2020/21 season, she had played her way into England contention as a result of consistently excellent club form, although a knee injury had ruled her out of action in the first half of 2021/22 and she had only just returned before the artery problem came.
“I just need to use this season to get back to how I was playing. I think I will use this experience going forward to hopefully make myself and my performance stronger. Not a lot of people go through what I’ve been through, and hopefully I can use that to my advantage,” Turner reflected.
Everyone else not involved at Euro 2022 has been back in training for the last couple of weeks and United will play five pre-season games in preparation for a crucial 2022/23 season, with Blackburn, Liverpool, Everton, Paris Saint-Germain and either Bayern Munich or Barcelona lined up.
Turner is returning to a defence that has been badly affected by injuries in recent months. Aoife Mannion is still in the process of rehab following ACL surgery in March. Short-term signing Diane Caldwell, who has since been released when her contract expired, also struggled for fitness in March and April, at times leaving Maria Thorisdottir as the only available centre-back.
Centre-back has been a position on the club’s shopping list this summer, although attacking signings have largely been prioritised. New full-back Maya Le Tissier could become a centre-back option in the longer-term, while Turner’s availability is obviously also a huge boost in that respect.