Writer: Arab Jacques
Date:Thursday December 7 2006
Tannadice is the place to go if you are a football recovering from serious injury and in need of a second chance.
Lee Wilkie was given a chance to continue his recovery from a serious knee injury and -even though he's going to Livingston on a 1-month loan - Craig Levein has said he wants the defence to gain more match practice & build up his fitness, before he starts giving him a regular place in the United's 1st team squad.
Lee Mair has also spent a considerable time on the treatment table, when he was sidelined for over a year with a medial ligament injury, but he's now enjoying his return to football and a revival under Craig Levein's new reign at Tannadice
The Aberdeen born defender turns 26 on Saturday - the same day Caley Thistle are the visitors at Tannadice - and has been talking about the difficult time he spent recovering from his knee injury.
'It can be a lonely time when you're out with a long-term injury, spending days concentrating on your own fitness, whilst the rest of the squad trains together.'
'There's nothing worse than being out injured - You see the boys training every day: you see them for ten minutes, and then you're away to the gym on your own,' said Mair.
'For the first year I never knew the boys because I was in the gym, and I never saw them much. There may be a few boys in the gym, but basically you're on your own.'
'But being back in training is what it's all about. It's night and day when you're back playing. It's much better now'
Mair made a great 1st impression on Craig Levein in his first match in-charge, when the defender headed in United's winner in their sensational 2-1 win over Rangers at Tannadice.
'You've got to be professional when you're injured, and know that one day you will be back. You have to push yourself, and it makes it all worth while when you score the winner against Rangers,' said the 25-year-old.
Although, Mair has also been impressed by Levein since he joined and admits that the former Leicester manager has made a huge impact at the clubs training sessions - by getting very involved with the defensive side of things.
Mair went on to say, 'Craig talks you through things - he'll take you to the side and talk about things that happen in a game, and how we can do things better, which helps improve our overall game.'
'He was obviously a top defender himself, and he helps all the defenders. We're delighted we're learning from him.'
Although, Levein's past experiences as a defender aren't the only thing that Mair & his new boss have in common - since Levein also experienced the agony of being sidelined through similar injuries during his time as a professional footballer.
'The manager said he's had six cruciate operations, so at least he knows what the likes of myself and Lee Wilkie have been through, and that it's a horrible time being out injured.'
Date:Thursday December 7 2006
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