Manchester United defender Aoife Mannion is making good progress in her ongoing recovery from a torn ACL in her right knee and is now into the ‘meatier end’ of her rehab programme, which means more moving to a more intense physical workload and technical ball work.
Mannion suffered her ACL injury, a second in under two and a half years, during United’s Continental Cup semi-final against Chelsea in February. She initially played on and finished the game before the extent of the problem was known and she underwent surgery in mid-March.
The former Birmingham and Manchester City centre-back had been a key player for Marc Skinner’s side until she was ruled out of the rest of the season, making 19 appearances in all competitions up to that point. With Millie Turner also out at that time, it put strain on a stretched defence and midfielders Katie Zelem and Hayley Ladd both played at the back in the closing stages of the season.
Turner returned to full training at the start of pre-season, while United have also added France international Aissatou Tounkara in the transfer market.
Mannion’s progress is another boost as the squad begins to take shape. She resumed jogging on grass in July, which she described as a ‘major milestone’ in the rehab process.
The original operation saw Mannion’s surgeon take part of the hamstring tendon in her left knee to create a graft to repair the ligament in her right knee. It also meant having to remove part of the graft from the previous ACL surgery in the autumn of 2019, which had the potential to extend the rehab.
But things have been moving faster than expected and Mannion told The Athletic in June that she was loosely targeting December for her return to action.
The 26-year-old has posted updates about her recovery throughout the process and that rapid progress appears to have continued. Among her latest video posts, Mannion was seen doing more intense physical drills to build up strength in a clearly healthy knee.
“I’ve progressed onto accelerations & decelerations,” she said. “We’re at the meatier end of the rehab now. Foundations have been laid, starting to feel really athletic again.”
An hour earlier, she posted another video: “Started to do more intense technical ball work.”
Once all centre-backs are fully fit in the next few months, United will have a strong defensive unit, with Mannion, Turner and the aforementioned Tounkara alongside Maria Thorisdottir.