For those associated with Blackburn Rovers, the night of the 23rd December 2019 will hold a great deal of significance for quite some time.
It was on that night, around an hour into a goalless draw with Wigan Athletic, that Rovers’ talisman, Bradley Dack, was stretchered of the pitch with his leg in a brace after landing awkwardly in a challenge with Latics midfielder Sam Morsy.
Just days later, Blackburn’s worst fears were realised, as manager Tony Mowbray confirmed that Dack had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in that collision, condemning the attacker to a long period on the sidelines.
But now, almost 11 months on from that injury, the glimmer in the light at the end of the tunnel for Dack, and so many Blackburn fans is starting to get brighter.
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On Tuesday, the 26-year-old took a huge step forward in his progress towards a return to competitive action, playing 45 minutes of a behind closed door Under 23s game, which Rovers drew 2-2 with Sheffield United.
After that game, Dack claimed that he felt completely normal being back out on the pitch, which will be a big relief to those monitoring his battle back to fitness, but don’t expect that to mean he will be part of Rovers’ senior squad for their trip to Luton on Saturday afternoon.
Dack himself has already admitted he will have to feature for the Under 23s once or twice before getting himself back into contention for first-team selection.
Rovers young side are next in action when they travel to Brighton on Monday, before hosting Everton the following Friday (27th November).
It would now be something of a surprise if Dack was not to feature in at least one of those, and given the importance of ensuring he is fully fit before returning to senior action, you would imagine that beyond that, decisions on Dack’s involvement will be taken on a match by match basis.
As a result, you feel it is likely to be into December at least before Dack is back out on a Championship pitch.
But having been made to wait for so long to see him back in a Rovers shirt, you feel those Blackburn fans can settle for waiting a few more weeks, to make sure that when he does return, the circumstances are exactly as they should be.