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Whilst many of her former team mates have been regulars in the WSL and some of the new look England squad currently in La Manga, the last three years have been a nightmare for Dani Ackerman due to a bad injury.
Dani, who could play in a variety of positions but mainly in midfield, was involved with England at youth levels and played for Bristol Academy in their last season in the Premier League under the managership of new England Head Coach Mark Sampson, but a deteriorating knee condition brought her promising career to a sudden halt.
"My injury is a combination of things," Dani told Women's Soccer Scene. "I had an operation back in 2011 to realign my kneecap as I have (thanks to genetics and overuse) a maltracking patella, Chondritis and also developing arthritis. It basically took away part of the ligament to stop my kneecap and bones from grinding against each other. Recovery should have been 6-12 months, but I tried to come back to exercise too quickly and think I did more damage than good.
"Since having lived in Madrid for two years, my last regular football was at UWIC playing for my Uni team, but even that was on and off. I've played recreationally with guys out in Spain, but haven't competed in almost three years!
"When I was playing at Bristol, I began to get really sharp pains in my knees, maybe as a result of intense training on the 3G. It's genetic too with all of the running in my family, but eventually it got worse. I remember having my knee taped every game at Bristol, but still being able to feel the pain right inside my joint. I remember warming up for the senior team and hardly being able to push off my left leg without wanting to cry, but had been chosen to start and didn't want to give up my place, but coming off at half time because it was so painful.
"Originally, if I'm honest, I was happy to have the operation, to take a back seat and rest. I became frustrated seeing other players becoming stronger and better, and still do get that now. It's frustrating for me to see so many Filton Academy players in the Super League and playing FA Cup Finals."
Despite her frustrations, Dani, now 25, has still been following her old club's fortunes and is delighted to see her former team mates prospering. "Like I said before, I'm glad Bristol are doing so well," she said. "The girls deserve it, as they've always been underrated as a team.
"It's great for them, but at the same time, seeing players and friends up there when you were alongside them can be frustrating. Grace [McCatty]has always been one of the most dedicated players I've played with, so of course she deserves it, and Nikki Watts' technicality is up there with the best.
"As for Mark Sampson, I didn't ever really play much under him. I was on my way to my operation and wasn't playing at that point. I think I was already gone in my head and it sounds bad, but knew I wasn't able to perform, and knew I wouldn't be picked so lost focus."
Now Dani has had to re-adjust in order to cope without playing football and is unsure whether she will be able to set foot on the pitch again. "I run a lot now," she explained. "I try to keep in shape so exercise mainly for that, but even now my knees are agony.
"I don't do enough strength and conditioning on my knees, I guess the motivation has gone because my knees are so stiff and painful I know I'll never be able to compete. I have an addiction to sport though, so run regularly to keep it going.
"My Dad keeps telling me to make a comeback but physically I don't think I can. At the moment I'm living and working in Exeter, so besides running, this week I trained with a local team just to be able to keep in touch with the game. Technically I still have the touch, and I'm not unfit but now, two days after, I can't walk upstairs!"
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