Krystian Bielik believes he is making positive strides in the right direction almost four months on from sustaining a long-term knee injury.
The 22-year-old was injured whilst in action for Derby’s Under-23s at the beginning of January as he prepared to complete a three-match suspension, after being sent off in the Rams' 2-1 home win over Charlton Athletic at the end of December, and was forced to undergo surgery.
The midfielder, who can also play in central defence, joined Derby last August from Premier League side Arsenal and had made 21 appearances in all competitions this season prior to being sidelined.
Bielik’s rehabilitation work is currently being conducted at home as he, and the rest of Derby’s squad, continue to follow UK Government's enforced guidelines, which were implemented towards the end of March following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The football season across most countries in the world has come to a halt and the football authorities have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will not resume until it is safe to resume.
Bielik is in regular contact with Derby’s medical team to continue his rehabilitation programme and his progress delighted supporters last week when the Poland international posted a video clip on his Instagram page of him doing some gentle ‘keepy-uppies’ in his garden.
Speaking to RamsTV over Zoom as part of Derby’s ‘Stay Fit. Stay Safe. Stay Connected.’ initiative, Bielik explained: “Being in Lockdown has its plusses and minuses for me, I would say.
“I am doing my rehabilitation work in my garden and when the sun is out, it is very nice and I can do a proper session with all the equipment that I have from the training ground.
“I am connected with our physio, Robin Sadler, every day on FaceTime. He does almost every single session with me and he can watch me doing my work. If I do something wrong, he can let me know and explain what I can do better.
“I can’t do everything as I would like to do in my garden, as I don’t have a swimming pool or some of the equipment that we have at the training ground. However, I think everything is going well and I feel much better.
“I can go for a long walk and feel much more confident with my leg. I see big progress.”
He added: “I am also spending time with my girlfriend and my new dog. I miss being at the training ground and being around the lads.”
Bielik came up with a plan of action for his rehabilitation work with Club Doctor Amit Pannu and Head Physiotherapist Robin Sadler once the UK Government’s guidelines were enforced.
After over a month of doing his work at home, Bielik feels in a positive frame of mind as he gently goes about building up the strength of his knee.
“I remember speaking to the physio and doctor about things and they called me and said it (lockdown) might happen,” Bielik said.
“We had a few scenarios that we could follow. The worst case was having to do things via FaceTime and in the end that was the one that we’ve had to do.
“The other ones we looked at were maybe one of the physios coming to my house to provide some treatment and do some rehabilitation work in the garden. Another one was going back to the training ground soon.
“However, everyone knows what is going on with Coronavirus and it is a big risk to have contact with other people.
“We have worked with the options we have and it is quite easy and comfortable for myself and Robin.
“If there’s a good connection there, there’s no problem to do anything. I speak to Robin almost every day from 11am and we start with a short spin session on the bike, before going on to do the rehabilitation session.”
Bielik’s social media post of him with a football at his feet once again was another demonstration of the progress he is making.
Although he is moving in the right direction, he knows plenty more hard work is ahead of him in the months ahead before he is at the stage where he can return to full training.
“It was nice to do the kick-ups; it was the second or third time I’ve done it,” he said.
“I didn’t want to post something too early and I spoke to the doctor and physio about that. The surgeon said I needed to go step-by-step and I know there is so much to lose. I am still very young and we decided to take it steady and when the time for kick-ups came, I would do some.
“We are now three months after surgery and in one month I could do some running on the Alter-G machine or the ground. I see the massive progress and I thought it was good to post the kick-ups on Instagram.”
Bielik added: “I thought I might forget how it was to feel the ball again, but it wasn’t a difference and that’s really positive.
“I can’t wait to make another step forward and I hope I will be back soon on the pitch.”
Bielik is looking forward to the moment when the players – and everyone across the country – can return to their normal lives but he has stressed that it’s important for everyone to remain patient at this time.
“I can’t wait to get back to the training ground when the time is right,” he said.
“I think I am doing a good job in my garden with the work I can do but with the equipment at the training ground, and the medical staff next to me, it will be nice to do a bit more as well.
“We would like to get back to the normal days, but this is all serious what is happening and we need to be patient. We will be back soon and on the right track.”