Battling Nash is a record breaker
BRAVE Ipswich Town youngster Gerard Nash is bidding for a place in the record books.Town's 17-year-old defender is attempting to resume playing after a second career-threatening cruciate ligament injury on the same knee.
By Mel Henderson
BRAVE Ipswich Town youngster Gerard Nash is bidding for a place in the record books.
Town's 17-year-old defender is attempting to resume playing after a second career-threatening cruciate ligament injury on the same knee.
Boss Joe Royle said today: “In my time we called it the footballer's worst nightmare - if you were unlucky enough to have this injury it was the end and there were no second chances.
“Young Gerard has been incredibly unfortunate for it to happen twice. It's so rare that we can't think of a player who has ever recovered from two such injuries.”
The promising centre-half has two things in his favour - modern surgery and a never-say-die attitude that is currently impressing his colleagues in pre-season training.
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Royle said: “Gerard has had a really rough time but he is showing terrific fighting spirit and has earned the admiration of the full staff as well as the other players.
“He has a brace on his knee, yet he is up there with the best of them and is not one of the back markers.
“He has worked incredibly hard right through the summer and there have been times when Simon Thadani, our fitness coach, has had to kick him out of the place just to give him a break,”
Dublin-born Nash, whose 18th birthday is just three days away, made his senior debut as a substitute in Town's crushing 6-1 home win over Burnley in October last year.
But just when it seemed he would enjoy further first team opportunities he was laid low and the long haul back to full fitness started in earnest after he underwent a rebuild of his knee in January this year.
Nash's first major injury occurred back home, in his time with the prolific Belvedere nursery outfit, and disaster number two struck on the eve of the home clash with Gillingham.
“I remember it well,” said Royle today. “The kid's knee just collapsed on him - there was no one near him at the time - and we feared straight away that it was a bad one.
“Typically, though, Gerard wanted to carry on and was even insisting he would be okay to be on the bench the next day!”
A fortnight's rest was followed by another setback, which set the alarm bells ringing as the teenager recognised the problem and realised reconstructive surgery was the only answer.
Royle added: “We are all very proud of Gerard and the signs are good. It will probably be September or October before he's back and nobody deserves to return strong and fit more than he does.”
Ironically, former Town manager George Burley was the first player to have his career saved by pioneering surgery, back in 1981 when top surgeon David Dandy operated on him in Cambridge.
Dandy performed similar keyhole surgery on a number of top stars and other surgeons have since perfected their own techniques.