Stricken Strootman pays tribute to Roma

Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman has issued a message of thanks to the club and its supporters as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

The Netherlands international has been unable to play this season after a third operation to correct a problem with his knee cartilage but he insisted he has never felt forgotten at the Stadio Olimpico.

"I feel really supported by the club. From the first surgery until now they've always supported me: the directors, the coaches, my team-mates … everybody who's involved at the club.

"Also the supporters, I get a lot of support from them, especially in the tough periods like when I had to have another surgery.

"The support that I get from everybody feels so good, and it gives me a lot of confidence and power to come back.

"We're now three months after the surgery and up to now it's gone really well. I have to see where we stand after four months and then I can say when I can start to train with the team.

"I feel good, I feel fit and I feel confident. I think that's important, I didn't feel that way before the surgery."

Strootman, who briefly returned to action at the beginning of this year after a ligament injury only to break down again, explained the succession of problems which have beset his knee in the past 18 months.

"It happened during the international match against France [in March 2014], I had issues with my right knee and had to be substituted," he said.

"I didn't want to take any more risks than necessary, and left the pitch. Three days later, we had a match against Napoli. I played, it was going okay but an unfortunate challenge caused me to lose my balance and I tore my cruciate ligaments.

"I think it took me about eight months to get back on the pitch, I played in an away game against Fiorentina. I got tackled and caught my right knee again.

"I left the pitch without too much pain, but the knee felt unstable. An MRI scan showed damage, and I needed surgery to see what was going on.

"During the surgery they discovered that the problems with my cartilage were more serious than expected. It was a big shock.

"We gathered all our research, and went all over Europe - here in Italy, Holland - in search of an answer. The conclusion was yet another operation on my ligaments.

"That I was so close to joining my team again and had it all taken away from me was a big step back, and a difficult challenge, mentally.

"We're now three months down the line, and I'm training. I have to say it's feeling a lot better. I hope the last steps in my rehabilitation will go the same and after that I can join the team quickly.

"That's what a footballer wants, and what I've missed most in the last two years. Reconnecting with the team is something I'm working on, and everyone is being very helpful and supportive."

In the absence of key player Strootman, Roma are fifth in Serie A, four points behind leaders Inter.

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