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Raul Jimenez has reached a huge landmark in his long road to recovery, making his first appearance for Wolves since fracturing his skull last year.
The Mexican international’s season ended all the way back in November, when he suffered the fracture after a sickening clash of heads with Arsenal defender David Luiz.
There were fears it could be a career-ending injury, but after rehabilitating under the care of neurosurgeon Sophie Camp at St Mary’s and Professor Tony Belli of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, the 30-year-old is now at a stage where he is ready to compete.
And after training for the final months of last campaign and the start of this one, Jimenez was named in the starting line-up of Bruno Lage’s first pre-season game as Wolves boss, as they take on Crewe at Gresty Road.
Raul Jimenez will wear the headguard for the rest of his career
The Wolves striker is sporting the protective headguard he will now wear for the remainder of his career, with club doctor Matt Perry detailing his “remarkable” recovery.
“His skull fracture has now healed well; he will wear a protective headguard to cover the area of bony injury for the remainder of his career, but it is judged strong enough for him to return to play with this protection,” Perry explained earlier this year.
“A brain injury such as concussion can take weeks and months to recover fully and TBI will sometimes leave lasting deficits. It is wonderful to be able to say that Raul has made a remarkable and excellent recovery to date.
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“He has no measurable signs of deficit and is now at the stage when he can contemplate a return to the career he loves; but a degree of caution is still required.
“Raul has been able to progress from basic fitness work into full competitive training from early March; only holding back on powered heading and aerial duels.
“He has now received the all clear to start these activities and is physically as fit, strong and agile as ever.
Jimenez started for Wolves in their first pre-season fixture against Crewe at Gresty Road
“Further match-based rehabilitation will start in July and will be tightly controlled initially. This respects the fact that although his recovery appears to be total there is a big step from training to competition.”
Wolves’ reliance on Jimenez was clear following his injury, as they slumped to their worst finish since promotion, with Nuno Espirito Santo leaving the club by mutual consent.
Jimenez had netted 48 goals in just 110 appearances prior to his injury and Perry is now confident he will be able to continue where he left off in the upcoming season.
Perry said: “We are hugely grateful to Professor Tony Belli and Miss Sophie Camp with their guidance and advice on his management, and Miss Camp and her colleagues at St Mary’s for the life and career saving surgery in the few hours that followed Raul’s initial injury.
“We hope and expect that Raul will be able to play a full part in Wolves’ 2021/22 season.”
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