ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton said Darren Lough’s return to football following an horrific injury has been like a new signing.
Team captain Lough fractured his skull in the FA Cup clash against Vauxhall Motors at Woodhorn Lane after an accidental clash with Motors player Andy Taylor at the beginning of October.
But having made excellent progress the defender returned to action ahead of schedule.
He was on the bench for the Colliers FA Vase clash at Shortwood and subsequent league games before starting his first 90 minutes in the home match against Consett earlier this month.
Middleton said: “Darren was in outstanding form up to the time of his injury and it was a massive loss not only to the club and the team but also to himself when the unfortunate incident occurred.
“At the time Darren was in danger. He was initially taken to Wansbeck General Hospital then later rushed to the intensive care unit at the RVI in Newcastle.
“We were all concerned and football was the furthest thought in our minds.
“Darren is a talented lad and although our thoughts – and Darren’s – were that he may never play again, he has made a miraculous recovery.
“He followed the doctor’s instructions and we have done that too.
“There were no short cuts – he initially stepped back into training since Christmas with no heading of the ball and just did what he could.
“His comeback was a gradual process for his sake and it’s great to have him back in the team – it’s like having a new signing.
“It will take a while for him to return to his best but things will get better with every 90 minutes.
“It’s a process building his way to full fitness and we are helping him along with it.”
Lough, 22, who works for the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “My comeback has gone better than I expected.
“Match fitness is one of the main things because I hadn’t played for six months and to get the sharpness back needs five or six games.
“I’ve had five matches now and feel fine. I’m hoping I can get back to my best before the end of the season and help to get Ashington as high up the table as possible.
“Heading the ball is now coming naturally again compared to when I first came back when I was thinking about it.”