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Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Alexia Putellas could return from her ACL rupture even better than she was before, according to a leading knee specialist.
Barcelona and Spain superstar Putellas has been ruled out of the Women's Euro 2022 following the injury on the eve of the tournament.
The setback deals a huge blow to both Putellas and Spain, but she is expected to make a full recovery.
And professor Adrian Wilson, a leading consultant orthopaedic and specialist knee surgeon, has no doubts the Barca captain will be back to her best following her rehabilitation, even suggesting she could improve her game.
"Absolutely, absolutely – she's got a really good chance of making it all the way back to the same level," Wilson told Stats Perform.
"And the great thing about treating any athlete is they're so determined that they just do so well.
"They're the best people to treat, because they've got great opportunities in terms of rehabilitation with physiotherapists, et cetera, and the determination is there, so they tend to do brilliantly.
"So, she'll be back. She'll be back playing better than she did. In fact, she could strengthen her knee to the point where she likes that one more than the normal one."
Putellas will have to stay patient, however, as Wilson warns a player of her age should expect up to a year out of action.
"You need focus for these things. Elite athletes are extremely focused individuals," he said. "And she'll be made aware of the fact that she shouldn't overdo it.
"So, she'll be pushing herself to the right limit every day. And the nice thing about recovering from an ACL is you see very rapid improvements, particularly in the early phase. And there are set phases of rehabilitation that she will go through.
"And then at the end, she'll have a return-to-play assessment performed on a regular basis to assess how well she's bending it, how strong, how good her balance is, and how prepared she is in bouncing around. There's lots of different tests we can do.
"And if she ticks all the boxes, she may get back at six months, if she's already at that point. But for somebody of her age, it's normally nine to 12 months before we're happy for them to return."