Motherwell's Carl McHugh feels lucky to be back in football after head injury

Motherwell midfielder Carl McHugh
Carl McHugh's head injury kept him sidelined for five months

Motherwell's Carl McHugh feels lucky and grateful to be back in football after a serious head injury.

The Irishman returned to action in Motherwell's 2-1 victory over Inverness on Wednesday after almost five months out following a serious concussion.

"It was a real eye-opener how much it can affect you and debilitate you on a daily basis," said the 23-year-old.

"I'm lucky now to go out in the morning and do what I love doing, go training and be involved in games."

McHugh's problems were sparked by a clash of heads with Kilmarnock midfielder Dean Hawkshaw on the opening day of the season.

"I played the game against Kilmarnock and I had the scar on my face, but I felt all right afterwards," said the midfielder.

"I felt grand and then it was four days afterwards that I went downhill and starting getting symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, the headaches and dizziness and the symptoms just wouldn't leave.

Motherwell's Carl McHugh sufferers a cut eye in a collision with Kilmarnock's Dean Hawkshaw
McHugh suffered a cut eye in a collision with Kilmarnock's Dean Hawkshaw

"It was very tough, but getting the scar was probably a blessing in disguise because it meant I had to come off.

"At the time, I didn't feel anything, I didn't feel like I was concussed. If you play on, that's when you can be in trouble. So that was probably a blessing in disguise getting my head split open."

McHugh struggled to deal with lesser-known symptoms of concussion, such as anxiety and other mental issues.

"That was definitely the most difficult part," the former Bradford City and Plymouth Argyle player said. "I would have been as ignorant about head injuries before: you have got a bang on the head, you will be all right in a few days.

"It was about four months that I didn't go for a jog or do a press-up. I couldn't do any activity and, for someone who is very used to that, it's your job, it's what you get up every day for, to have that part taken away was a big challenge.

"But I was very lucky, the club let me go home for a while. They thought it was the best thing for me to go back to Ireland, that was massive and I am so appreciative of that.

Motherwell's Carl McHugh challenges Caley Thistle's Greg Tansey
McHugh (left) returned to action for Motherwell against Caley Thistle

"I was able to be round my family and my girlfriend and that definitely helped me through it."

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee described his summer signing's comeback display as "heroic" and he is set to feature in Saturday's Lanarkshire derby away to Hamilton Academical.

McHugh was booked for the wholehearted aerial challenge that sparked his absence and Kilmarnock fans were clamouring for a red card as he lay prostrate.

He admits he might tone down his approach slightly.

"I don't think I will be going full on like I did against Kilmarnock too soon, but I don't think I will change my game too much to be honest," he added. "It's just the way I am."

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