The 26 year-old is delighted with the support he has received from the rival ISL clubs during his recovery period.

A little more than a month after he picked up a partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), India international and Kerala Blasters FC defender Sandesh Jhingan has successfully undergone surgery and is on the road to recovery.

Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh last month, India played a practice game against NorthEast United FC where Jhingan twisted his knee and ruptured his ACL.

Jhingan is under complete rest for the next three weeks before he can fly back to Kochi and link up with Kerala Blasters, a club for which he has been playing since the inception of the Hero Indian Super League. However, on-field rivalries notwithstanding, the ISL clubs have got together to extend support to the 26-year-old.

“I have been staying at the Mumbai City FC apartments since the time I underwent surgery in Mumbai. They have been really helpful. Even Bengaluru FC have invited me to do my rehab at their facility in Bellary, Karnataka. ATK has also extended their support and have asked me to come over to Kolkata for my rehab. I am really impressed. To know that you have well-wishers across clubs and the football fraternity, irrespective of the on-field rivalry, it’s a big boost for an athlete who is facing an unfortunate injury and long rehab. I am grateful to all the support I have received and want to thank the football family who have come together for me,” said Jhingan.

The 2014 Hero ISL ‘Emerging Player’ of the Year had his road to recovery chalked out and now has to play a waiting game before he can start light training.

“I took a decision of doing prehab gym work and my muscle was in very good shape after surgery. The first two steps are done. Now I just have to be patient and see how my body responds,” said the India defender.

The centre-back is taking it ‘step-by-step’ and does not want to put a date on his return yet. “My initial target was to come back by the end of the season. But the thing with an ACL injury is that it takes about six to nine months,” said Jhingan.

“It’s very hard to say if I will be back by end of the season or in June or the next ISL itself. But I can guarantee the fans, my family and the football fraternity that I will do everything it takes to be back on the field, in a stronger shape. I don’t want to rush. When I come back, I will be a much better footballer and a much better person,” said Sandesh Jhingan.