Derry City's Sadou Diallo counting his lucky stars after pre-season horror tackle

​SADOU Diallo says he was 'counting my lucky stars' having avoided a broken leg when the midfielder was on the wrong end of the 'atrocious' tackle which has ruled him out of the opening two months of Derry City's season.
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​The Englishman signed a new two-year contract with the Brandywell club last November and was in terrific shape heading into the Candy Stripes' final pre-season friendlies until a horror tackle stopped him in his tracks and forced him under the surgeon's knife.

Heading into half-time in Derry's home friendly against Finn Harps, Diallo fell victim to a lunging one-footed challenge and was caught with the visiting player's studs on the top of his shin bone.

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Initially he felt it was just bruising at the impact site and he emerged in the second half and played for another 15 minutes before being substituted as a precaution.

It wasn't until the next day he realised there was more damage than just bruising to the tibia and an MRI scan revealed a torn meniscus such was the force of the tackle.

It was 'devastating' for the former Man City youth who was so excited for the upcoming campaign. Having undergone knee surgery, he's hoping to return to action by next April but admits it's been a difficult pill to swallow as everyone gears up to the opening fixture of the 2024 campaign against Drogheda on Friday night.

"Immediately after the tackle I was obviously panicking and was thinking of the worst but luckily I was able to play on as normal and I felt completely fine," explained Diallo who has spoken for the first time about the incident. "I went home having forgotten about it but the next morning is when I started feeling discomfort and pain.

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"Now it's obviously frustrating and hard to take but Micky [Hegarty] the club physio and the knee specialist said I was very lucky I didn't break my leg so I'm counting my lucky stars more than anything.

Derry City’s Sadou Diallo will miss the opening two months of the season with knee ligament damage.Derry City’s Sadou Diallo will miss the opening two months of the season with knee ligament damage.
Derry City’s Sadou Diallo will miss the opening two months of the season with knee ligament damage.

"I underwent surgery which went well. Now it's just about resting it and then start doing rehab as it starts to heal. I'm hoping to be back by April if everything goes well."

Diallo will be at Brandywell on Friday night along with the team to cheer on his teammates but he can't hide his frustrations at missing out in the opening stages of the season.

He isn't one to dwell and revealed the Harps player who committed the tackle has since reached out to apologise and Diallo just hopes the youngster learns from his mistake which could so easily have resulted in more serious consequences for Derry's midfield man.

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"Looking back at the video it was definitely a 'leg breaker' and one that I hope the young lad learns from. I've had my fair share of bad ones but that was atrocious. He reached out and apologised which I appreciated.

Sadou Diallo in action against Shelbourne last season.Sadou Diallo in action against Shelbourne last season.
Sadou Diallo in action against Shelbourne last season.

"The most frustrating part of it all is the timing of it with the season starting this week. As players we do all we can to be eligible for selection for the first game of the season so you can imagine how devastating it is."

The 24 year-old former Forest Green midfielder knows he must be patient and allow his injury to heal and he's hoping when he returns to action Derry are flying high on top of the league table.

"It's not ideal of course but this is the business we're in and injuries are a part of it. This isn't my first so I just got to be patient and go through rehab and hopefully be back soon. I just can't wait to be back training already. I'm someone who just loves to play football all the time.

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"I'm still excited for the first game of the season. I'll just be like any other Derry fan come Friday night and hopefully we get off to a good start. Listen, we have a great squad, that goes without saying. It's very competitive in every position and as players it's exciting and I'm sure the fans feel the same way too.

"We've added Pat [Hoban] and Dickie [Daniel Kelly], two incredible players with vast experience and I'm looking forward to learning from them both."