ANOTHER long period of rehabilitation in the wake of a knee injury is nearing an end for Fiona Brown – although given football’s shutdown it will be some time before the Scotland winger is back skinning defenders.

The forward’s last game for Rosengard was at Vaxjo on August 20, almost exactly two months after she came on as a late substitute in the fateful World Cup group game against Argentina.

Brown has already missed seven months of football, and it is the third time she has had to endure such a long lay off.

Yet for all her set-backs Brown, whose 25th birthday is a week on Tuesday, has retained the many admirable aspects of her personality. Born and brought up in Dunblane, she didn’t need the present crisis to keep football in perspective.

Despite the current situation she is still in Sweden. The league season there is scheduled – all going well – to finally get underway at the end of May. When it does, Brown hopes to play a full part in Rosengard’s title defence.

“I’m up to some high-speed running now and back doing some technical work with the ball,” she reported from her Malmo home. “I hope to be ready to play in mid-May – whether it will be before or after then depends on how my knee reacts to more ball work, and the load that goes through it when coming back to team training.

“I’m working mostly in isolation with the physio, who is one of the best in Sweden and has done this rehab, which is quite rare, in the past with one of the men’s players at Malmo FF. I also got help from the Institute of Sport when I was home in the winter break and that was class as well.”

Unlike her two previous anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries, the damage this time is to the cartilage on the right knee.

“It had been niggling at the World Cup and started swelling up randomly,” Brown said. “We were just trying to manage it. In the summer you were doing anything possible just to be able to be fit – I could probably have played with a broken leg, to be honest.

“I knew I would probably have to get some work done on it at the end of the season, but as it turned out I got a tackle in training the week after the Vaxjo game. It was completely accidental but I couldn’t walk and was on crutches for 10 weeks.

“It’s a cartilage injury. Considering the trauma my knees have had over the years it’s not that surprising. My club has been unbelievable in supporting me.”

Brown had her ACL operations in 2012 and 2015 – one on each knee. She was told she would never play professionally after the second. Yet, despite the courage and resilience she has shown, there was a time when the player felt she was being defined by the injuries and not her considerable footballing skills.

“Now I’m really proud of what I’ve come through,” she said. “I don’t think many people would have the mental capacity to do that. But to be honest there was a time when I was really embarrassed by the injuries.

“When I moved to Eskilstuna [from Glasgow City in 2017] I didn’t tell anyone about them. That’s what was so nice about it – it was a really fresh start. It wasn’t until that summer, when it was really hot and we were all tanned, that somebody noticed a white scar.

“They asked me if it was an ACL scar and I said yes. They couldn’t believe it – and then I told them it had happened twice. It was something that had just never come up. It was a good feeling that they hadn’t known, and that’s when I started to get over it.”

Brown, who still wonders if the outcome of the Argentina game might have been different had she been allowed to get into position following the double substitution also involving Sophie Howard, signed a new contract with Rosengard after the World Cup. It will keep her with the champions until the end of next year.

“I was probably playing my best football in the run-up to the injury, and so it was really good to get the support of the club knowing they wanted to keep me,” she said. “Unfortunately I haven’t been able to repay them yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to do that quickly.

“I’m going to come back stronger than I’ve ever been.”