ASHINGTON have been given a welcome boost ahead of Saturday’s rescheduled FA Carlsberg Vase fourth round against Bodmin Town in Cornwall.
Cultured defender Darren Lough will not be returning to Iceland as early as first thought and will be available for selection over the coming weeks.
It was believed that Lough’s impending departure could have seen him leave the north east to link up with KA Akureryi this week – but the ex-Newcastle United Reserves skipper will now not be heading back abroad until the beginning of February.
The 23-year-old said at the weekend: “I had originally thought I could have been playing my last game for Ashington this week, but the Icelandic season doesn’t start until April so I will not need to go out until next month.”
Woodhorn Lane boss Gary Middleton added: “We thought Darren was going back at end of January but with no definite date confirmed, every week he is available for us is a bonus.”
Lough is happy at the Wansbeck-based club and is now casting an eye towards Saturday’s clash against Bodmin Town.
“I’m enjoying my time here again,” he said.
“It’s great to be back amongst the lads and getting minutes on the pitch.
“All of the squad are looking forward to the Bodmin encounter – it’s a massive game with the winners reaching the last 16 of a national competition.”
After suffering an horrendous injury over 15 months ago when he fractured his skull in the FA Cup game at home to Vauxhall Motors, Lough said he now has a clean bill of health.
“I feel fine – and reckon I’ve made a 100 per cent recovery,” he said.
“I’m playing with a head guard on which is light and comfortable, but I very rarely realise that I’ve got it on as I just focus my concentration on the game.”
Ashington chairman Ian Lavery said: “I’m delighted to hear that Darren has been given the all clear.
“He is undoubtedly one of the best talents in the Northern League and deserves to play football at a higher level – but it is great to have him back when not playing in Iceland.
“On behalf of the officials and the supporters of Ashington CFC we wish Darren the very best for the rest of his footballing career – and may that be a long one.”