7 Feb 2017

Akil Mitchell heading back to the States

1:02 pm on 7 February 2017

New Zealand Breakers import Akil Mitchell is returning to the United States for further treatment on his eye and his future with the club is unclear.

Mitchell, who suffered a major eye injury playing against Cairns last month, will miss the club's final regular season game against Melbourne this weekend.

Akil Mitchell says he feels "blest" despite suffering a serious eye injury.

Akil Mitchell says he feels "blest" despite suffering a serious eye injury. Photo: Photosport

He has not played since the incident, which saw his eye pop out of its socket.

Breakers head coach Paul Henare said Mitchell had been given leave to return to the States and seek specialist treatment at home.

"Akil has been magnificent these past two weeks since the injury suffered against Cairns. Right from the moment he left the floor with one arm raised to the fans, thinking of them despite the obvious pain and distress he was in, he has been a model of professionalism and has lived Breakers' values in all he has said and done.

"However, it has become clear in recent days that he was not making the progress he would like and his agent has organized for him to receive further treatment back home. Understandably healing 100 percent from this injury is of the utmost concern to Akil and we as a team and club support him in that goal and wish him a full recovery."

It is not known whether Mitchell will return for the playoffs, should the Breakers emerge from the final round of action inside the top four, but Henare and Mitchell have left that door very much open.

"Right now, our concern is for Akil to return to full health and we are not putting that sort of pressure on him. But he has said that should he be given the all clear to return to playing duties and is given a clean bill of health, he wants to come back and help us if he can. We will discuss that if and when the time comes, for now we want him to focus on getting healthy."

Breakers forward Akil Mitchell describes moment his eye fell out of socket: RNZ Checkpoint

Breakers forward Akil Mitchell describes moment his eye fell out of socket: RNZ Checkpoint Photo: RNZ / YouTube

It was an emotional Mitchell who spoke about leaving this week.

"I leave with a heavy heart but I must do all I can to make sure I return to full health. The past few weeks have been a roller coaster to say the least, but I have never lacked for the support and love of my team mates, coaches and everyone at the club. The messages from the fans here at the Breakers and from back home in the US have meant the world to me and my family.

"Right now I must leave no stone unturned and have made the call to head home and get further treatment on my eye, I hope the fans understand. I have spoken to the team and they know that my thoughts are with them on Friday."

The Breakers' final regular season game against Melbourne has huge implications on the post-season for both sides.

The Breakers are seventh in the standings and need to win and hope other results go their way to make the top four play-offs.

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