ASHINGTON’S Gareth Rees has said he is determined to make a footballing comeback as he faces more than a year out of the game due to injury.
The Blyth-born defender, who lives in Stakeford, had missed the end of last season when he underwent laser surgery on his eyes.
He was then preparing for pre-season training when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and tore a cartilage, which looks set to sideline him for more than a year.
“I’m devastated. After having the laser surgery in March, I had been looking forward to the start of the new campaign after I felt I had been missing out on so much,” he said.
“In my attempts to keep myself fit, I was playing six-a-side football with my mates when I twisted awkwardly and landed on my right knee.
“I heard a pop and knew it was something serious and went to see the doctor the following day.
“I was going on holiday 48 hours later to a friend’s wedding in Turkey and was on crutches.”
The 31-year-old, a contracts manager for a specialist sub contracting firm in Cambois, added: “I was referred for an MRI scan and got my results last week, which revealed I have cruciate ligament and cartilage damage.
“I am booked in for pre-op physiotherapy in November then am due to undergo an operation just after Christmas at Wansbeck General Hospital.
“I have been told that a 12 months period of intensive physio will follow and depending on how I progress, could have my first involvement again in January 2014.”
The 6ft 3ins lynchpin added: “I’m absolutely devastated – but I’m determined to come back and very much want to do that because I love the competitive edge and involvement in football and miss the banter with the Ashington lads in the dressing room.”
Woodhorn Lane boss Gary Middleton said: “It’s obviously disappointing news not only for Gareth but for Ashington as well.
“I’ve got to be honest and say our defensive form has not been what I would have liked and Gareth has been a massive miss in that department.
“Last season he performed excellently with some terrific displays and his ability to compete; head the ball and his strength in the tackle are qualities which we have come to miss.
“Last term he was a big part of us doing so well and our best wishes go to him – hopefully he’ll come back stronger.”
Rees’ setback adds yet more to the opinion that the Colliers are labelled the most unluckiest club in non league football for injuries.
Last season Gareth Bainbridge, Darren Lough, Stephen Young and Phill Bell suffered long spells out of the game and already this term, Jonny Godsmark, Bell and Josh Gray – in addition to Rees – are experiencing a lengthy period on the sidelines.