WHEN Charlie Daniels underwent surgery to repair his left kneecap in April last year, expectations were that he would miss the start of the 2019-20 season.

However, the left-back made a swift and surprise return to feature in a friendly against Lazio less than four months later, before completing the full 90 minutes in the Premier League victory at Aston Villa two weeks after.

At the time Daniels admitted his early comeback had been a “bonus” following what he described as the worst injury of his 15-year professional career.

However, just eight days on from the Villa Park triumph, disaster struck for the defender, dislocating the patella in his right knee whilst swinging in a cross against Manchester City at Vitality Stadium.

Having thought he had just made an early and timely comeback ready for the start of the campaign, Daniels was informed this latest setback would in fact keep him out for the remainder of the season as more surgery beckoned.

“I thought I’d done exactly the same thing as my other side,” the 33-year-old told the Daily Echo as he recalled the incident.

“But obviously this one is a tiny bit worse, that’s why it’s taken a little bit longer.”

Given the unexpected nature of his recovery to feature in pre-season, the natural question is whether he rushed back his initial return in August.

“Loads of people have said that but it’s just the way I felt,” explained Daniels.

“I felt like I was strong. It wasn’t like it was a muscle and I could redo a muscle, the kneecap just needed stabilising.

“Then I got straight back into training and I felt really good. I played 90 minutes straight off against Aston Villa and everything was fine. So I think it was just one of those things.

“I think it’s more of a genetic thing rather than doing it again.”

Asked if there was a concern of a repeat problem when he makes his next comeback, Daniels joked: “Well I can’t do another knee can I!?

“Both knees will be fully stabilised and hopefully it never happens again. Well it shouldn’t do really after the surgery.”

He added: “Everything’s been going really well so far, no setbacks at all.

“I’ve got to see the surgeon on Monday, hopefully for the last time, and start progressing again. Hopefully I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Having been informed he would not play in 2019-20, Daniels stayed away from Vitality Stadium until returning to watch Cherries take on Wolves in late November.

Now upbeat, Daniels, who moved to Dorset from Leyton Orient in 2011, admits the first few months post-injury were tough to come to terms with.

“It was hard first off,” he said.

“But once you get your head around how bad it is you just have to do the work.

“For the first eight weeks I think it was I was in a brace. I couldn’t bend my leg and I was on a CPM machine they call it, I had to just lay there and it just bent your leg.

“I was on that for eight hours a day for six weeks. So it was boring.

“But obviously the more you did it, the better it became. I stuck to it and I didn’t go away, I just stayed at home until December.

“For me, the initial part is the most important part and I wanted to get that right before I went away.”

Being injured is undoubtedly the worst thing for a footballer, but it does offer some perks.

“I went to Dubai for Christmas actually, which was lovely,” said Daniels.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever done it and the kids loved it and I really enjoyed it, being in the pool on Christmas Day and stuff like that, it was different and it was nice.

“And it was nice to get away for that period because obviously there was a lot of games so I couldn’t really do too much at the club because all the physios were with the first team. So I got to a point in the rehab that I could go away for a few days and really just enjoy time with the family.”

But now full focus for Daniels is on making a return to the pitch, although he admits he is not too sure when that might be yet.

“I wouldn’t know until I start running”, he said.

“Once I start running then I know how it feels and then if it’s the same as the other side then I progressed quite quickly when I started running. So it’s just all on my feelings more than anything really and getting the muscles up to the standard of the other side.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say the rehab is easier (this time) because it’s longer.

“But I’ve been through it before so I know what I have to do to, I know what to get up to and I know how the knee should feel for me to be back.”