'You Can't Hold Him Back!' – Everton Director Of Medical On Digne's 'Amazing' Recovery

Everton Director of Medical, Danny Donachie, has explained how Lucas Digne’s “incredible” mindset was the driving factor behind his rapid recovery from ankle ligament surgery.

Digne made his First-Team return in Everton’s 2-1 FA Cup third round victory over Rotherham United at Goodison Park on Saturday, barely six weeks after undergoing his operation.

The procedure was overseen by world-leading ankle surgeon James Calder, who expected Digne’s recovery to take around 12 weeks.

Donachie, however, outlined how the France international left-back’s focus was fixed on defying expectations as soon as his rehabilitation programme began.

“Lucas is always so enthusiastic, mentally positive and well prepared,” Donachie says. “He is a dream to work with. 

“He was obviously very upset when he first got injured, but from the very next day his mindset was, ‘I’m going to get back quickly and be even better than I was before I was injured’. 

“It’s incredible the impact that mindset can have.


“It [his First-Team return] is way ahead of schedule. It was a significant injury he suffered. He ruptured the medial and lateral ligaments in his ankle but he also had a significant fracture in his fibula.

“He had a plaster on for eight or nine days after his surgery. [When the cast came off] I think he was quite shocked how big his ankle looked and the scars were quite noticeable as well. 

“It took him a while to get over that shock. But from that moment he was saying, ‘I’ll be back in eight weeks’ . Very quickly that got fewer and and fewer – ‘In six weeks, I’ll be back’. 

“We’ve had players in the past who have recovered within eight weeks, and I thought that was incredible. 

“But his recovery was just amazing. It’s due to a combination of his mentality, drive and determination, and the fact he’d do anything we asked him to do.”

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02:17

HIGHLIGHTS: EVERTON 2-1 ROTHERHAM

Tosun and Doucoure on target in cup victory.


Having removed his cast following surgery, the next step in Digne’s rehabilitation, Donachie explains, was to wear a walking boot for three weeks before stepping up his programme.

Digne’s progress meant this timeframe was swiftly reassessed, however.

“In the early stages, we took the walking boot off and did some low-level weight-bearing exercises,” Donachie says.

“Because Lucas was so effective at those exercises, we were able to push him on really quickly. 

“The walking boot he was supposed to have on for three weeks, he had it on for two or three days.”

Donachie explains how Digne’s application and relentless work-ethic ensured he continued to make positive strides.  

“In the early stages, we were doing basic exercises in the water,” he says.

“We progressed to something called the AlterG treadmill. It is gravity-assisted. You can walk and run at anything from 10 per cent of your body weight. With Lucas, very quickly he was at 70, 80 per cent of his body weight, running at fast speeds.

“We’ve also got something called aero floor, which gymnasts use. It’s a floor made of air, that gives you a lot of support and spring. And we use a gymnastic crash mat – the type high-jumpers use. We use that to do early-stage running, so you can change your movement and do all kind of different exercises on that. 

“When we went outside, normally you’d go at quite a low level, but Lucas was more or less sprinting from the very first moment. You can’t hold him back!

“At home, as well, he is always doing things to improve himself and make the healing faster. His whole mindset was around getting back quickly. 

“We had to play our part in that, too. You have to have a little bit of courage to go along with an accelerated rehab, because obviously there are risks, but he is the main driver.”

Digne played for 66 minutes of Everton’s cup victory over Rotherham – and Donachie says the Frenchman came through the game unscathed.

“He had trained all week and had no issues,” he added.

“There was a challenge in the first half he made. The right-back was going down the wing, it was a very strong challenge Lucas put in. I was happy when he got up from that. 

“He said he felt better as the game went on.”

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Digital members will receive a monthly newsletter and get access to exclusive videos and regular member competitions offering money can’t buy prizes.

Your Digital account will also enable you to buy any tickets on general sale, and if you’re an Official member or Season Ticket Holder, the same login will allow you to access and manage your ticketing account.

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01:28

FERGUSON GIVES VERDICT ON CUP VICTORY

Assistant manager on why FA Cup is 'priority' for Blues.