SUNS AFLW leader Jamie Stanton has ticked off a major milestone in her recovery from a severe knee injury suffered early in season seven.

The 27-year-old’s campaign was cruelly ended in Round 2 following a ruptured ACL, but vision of Stanton back running for the first time since September is a sight to rejoice for all SUNS fans.

While there’s still a way to go in her road to recovery, Stanton says reaching these kind of milestones keeps the desire burning to continue ticking boxes.

“The milestone itself is something that keeps you ticking along the rehab journey. It’s a long process and it takes time,” Stanton said.

“It was just really nice to get out there and feel like I was ready to run.

“The calendar is looking really good at the moment. We’ve got a big, long planner that the rehab team have put a lot of work into and we’re ticking boxes at the right time.

“Everything is on track at the moment as per the plan we’ve put together.”

The injury, suffered during the first quarter the SUNS first home game of Season Seven, led to the second lengthy rehab of the midfielder’s career.

Her season five campaign, in which she managed just the six matches, was derailed by an ankle injury, which proved to have elements of silver lining heading into her latest rehabilitation period.

“The mental side is always a challenge. I’m lucky in a sense that I went through a rehab a couple of seasons prior so I knew what that mental challenge would look like,” Stanton continued.

“My biggest challenge has been day-to-day – you don’t feel human in what your limitations are and what you can do compared to other healthy humans.

“Getting back to feeling like you’re a healthy human who can walk without pain, bend, squats and things like that. It feels like other humans are more superior than you because you can’t do all of that, even though you know you will be able to at a point in time.

“That’s being my biggest challenge as I knew what the mental side of things would be like.”

Close to five months have passed since suffering the injury with the next step in the process to build upon limited straight-line running.

“The next step is to the get the knee to a point where it can take the loading in a straight-line form and build up kilometres to be able to take all the load that we need it to,” she continued.

“Then going into a change of direction block, which can look quite big as you start with a lot of ‘known’ change of direction, which then becomes unpredictable change, then unpredictable in a controlled contact environment and then again in an uncontrolled contact environment.

“It’s large but there’s lots of milestones in it along the way.”

Stanton, who has seen first-hand the challenges associated with recovering from such a serious injury, says she’s extremely thankful for the support afforded to her from right across the football club.

“The support has been awesome. I’m in such a great environment, supported by so many people with all the resources I need be it from the medical staff, the coaches, or the playing group itself,” Stanton continued.

“My Mum went through three ACL recoveries and I have more admiration for her going through that than I do for me with the support that I have.

“It makes me think there must be some really strong humans out there to get through it on their own.

“I’ve been really lucky with my rehab in that myself and the team here have been on top of everything. Milestones have been ticked when they needed to be.

“That has definitely helped the mental side of things. There haven’t been as many lows, and there haven’t been as many highs either because we’ve just been really constant on it all.

“It does make you want to go again for the next one, and the next one after that.”

Closing in on 50 AFLW games, Stanton is buoyant about the year ahead but is staying squarely focused on her road to recovery.

“The body will dictate that (when I return to playing).

“Hopefully I can get back to being the player I was.”