Lee eyeing a Christmas return from knee injury
PLYMOUTH Albion youngster Dan Lee is determined to stay positive despite needing a major operation and facing at least six months out of the game.
The 19-year-old back-row forward, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Barnstaple after making four first team appearances for Albion early in the campaign, has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and damaged his medial collateral ligament.
The surgery that the city student needs also includes a hamstring graft.
Lee, who has played for England Under-18s Clubs and Schools and England Counties Under-20s, said he knew he had a knee problem but was completely shocked at the severity of it.
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"I injured my knee playing a game for Barnstaple in March," said Lee.
"I left it for a week or two and then came back as I wanted to play.
"There was some pain, so I knew my knee was not totally right, but it was playable."
Former Ivybridge Community College pupil Lee had always intended to have it looked at the end of the season.
His season, though, was prolonged by his call up for the England Counties Under-20 squad and for Devon's senior team.
"I was just going to play with England Counties and then get it sorted," said the teenager.
"I did not expect it to be that serious."
It was while he was away in Scotland with the England set-up where the problem really came to light.
On his return to Plymouth he went for a MRI scan.
And Lee admitted the results came as a shock.
"It's a bit gutting," he said. "I am going to need a hamstring graft and will be out for six months or more."
Lee should find out in the next couple of weeks when he will have the surgery. He is due to see top orthopaedic consultant surgeon Patrick Loxdale.
Lee said: "I have spoken to (Albion coach) Nat (Saumi) and (Albion physio) Paris (Payne).
"Paris has said he can get me fit in six months, so if I have the operation soon then, hopefully, I could be back playing after Christmas.
"It is encouraging to know that a lot of players have had similar injuries and it has not affected them.
"I was speaking to (fellow Albion back-row forward) Sam Hocking about it. It happened to him in both knees when he was younger. He also needed a hamstring graft, but has had no problems."
Lee was in the middle of contract negotiations with Albion when his injury came to light.
"Nat has said I can sign on so I can get rehab work," said Lee. "But I will only get paid again when I'm fit to play."
Lee was hoping to really make his mark at Albion next season.
But he knows it will be hard to force his way into the team when he does return to full fitness in 2013.
"It is a bit of a blow," he said.
"I did pretty well in pre-season last year and that is the time when you can impress.
"But I have got another year left at university so I am going to be around. I will still be training and get help from James Owen and generally keeping in pretty good shape."
Meanwhile, Albion have been linked with a number of players in the last week, including London Scottish's former Cornish Pirates and Launceston centre Ryan Westren.
However, Albion coach Saumi has been unavailable for comment on any Albion-related matters this week.
Saumi, though, is expected to make further announcements about his squad for next season in the next few days.
Albion are due to return for pre-season training next week.