SUE Smith is counting down the days until the Women’s Super League restarts after returning from her horror injury, writes Hayley Paterson.
The 33-year-old suffered knee ligament damage which caused her first Belles campaign to come to an abrupt end 10 months ago.
Belles missed their star signing, finishing second from bottom in the FA WSL.
However, the club have been boosted after Smith completed 50 minutes in a warm-up game last week.
“I loved playing again, I was just smiling throughout the game,” said Smith.
“I followed the physio’s advice and came off before the hour-mark. I’m nowhere near one hundred per cent, but I’m glad I came through without any pain or further injuries.
“I’m usually really critical of my performance but I was really happy.
“You can’t beat match fitness,” she added.
“I just absolutely loved every minute of being back on the pitch, it’s done so much for my confidence too.
“I’m continuing to train and am doing plenty of running and conditioning work. The club have been fantastic to me during my rehabilitation and keeping me involved.
“It’s frustrating sitting on the sidelines, I’ve had to be patient. The goal is to be ready for March.”
Smith, who also dislocated her ankle and broke her leg at the same time a few years ago, said the Belles are fully focused on their 2013 campaign and has been delighted with the club’s acquisitions, including goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs, from Lincoln, and fellow Liverpudlian Cheryl Foster.
“The team can’t wait for the season to start,” she said.
“We’ve got a fantastic mix of experience and youth and a lot of our players know more about what to expect in the Super League after the last campaign.
“People are probably expecting us to finish bottom but in a way it does us a favour because we’re not under pressure. It means we can just focus on letting our football do the talking on the pitch.
“Getting experience in the team like Nic (Hobbs) is brilliant for us and I’m enjoying having a fellow Scouser at the club in Cheryl!”
With nearly 100 caps for England, the former Leeds ace also hopes to make an international return.
“I’ve not ruled it out. I would love to be in the England team again. I’m wanting to speak to Hope (Powell - England manager).”
The Belles face Chelsea at home in the Continental Cup on March 23 with their league campaign beginning April 14 away at Everton.