After 10 months on the sidelines through injury, Northern Ireland striker Simone Magill finally returned to action at the weekend when she made her debut for Aston Villa in a 5-0 win at Reading in the FA Women’s Super League.
The Magherafelt native, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in Northern Ireland’s opening UEFA Women's Euro 2022 game with Norway last July, played the final 15 minutes of the impressive victory and admitted it was a memorable moment for her.
"It was a very special feeling stepping back on the pitch," she told irishfa.com. "Being injured is never nice, especially when it’s long term. Getting back out there made all those long and tough days worth it."
Magill signed a two-year deal with Villa after leaving Everton just prior to last summer’s European Championship finals and she admitted the club had been superb in the way they had looked after her.
"The club have been fantastic. The timing of events were so unfortunate given I hadn’t even got to the club officially, but from the day I got injured the club were there for me and their reassurance early on was everything I needed," she explained.
"There’s so many people who I’d have to thank at the club and I’m so grateful to them for their support and guidance to get me back on the pitch again."
Meanwhile, the English Football League season came to a close in dramatic fashion with Trai Hume’s Sunderland side snatching a place in the Championship play-offs following their storming 3-0 victory at Preston North End who had Ali McCann returning from injury in their starting line-up.
Elsewhere striker Shayne Lavery was also making his comeback from injury after missing the last 10 weeks with a hamstring complaint by playing the final 20 minutes of relegated Blackpool’s single goal win at Norwich City.
In the Premier League both Jamal Lewis and Jonny Evans were unused substitutes for Newcastle United and Leicester City respectively.
On the goalscoring front Paddy Lane hit his first for Portsmouth who concluded their League One campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Wycombe Wanderers, declaring after the game that it was a relief to have finally opened his account for the South Coast club.
“It’s been a long time coming,” the 22-year-old said. “The gaffer has been telling me that he wants goals and assists.
“Luckily I managed to nick one at the back stick and I was just over the moon. A lot of emotion came out when it went in.
“Now I’m just looking forward to next season already and the goal’s given me confidence because I want to experience that again and again.”
Elsewhere in League One, Bolton Wanderers prepared for their play-off encounter with Barnsley with a 3-2 success at Bristol Rovers. Defender Eoin Toal started the game, while striker Dion Charles was rested and wing back Conor Bradley missed out due to a shoulder complaint.