Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders: Double injury blow for league leaders as Rory Hale and Jordan Owens ruled out

Stephen Baxter will have to reshuffle his pack over a busy December period.
Stephen Baxter will have to reshuffle his pack over a busy December period.

Crusaders have been dealt two big injury blows ahead of a crucial Christmas period in the Danske Bank Premiership title race.

Stephen Baxter's side currently sit top of the table, above Coleraine and Cliftonville on goal difference and two clear of defending champions Linfield, who have two games in hand.

However, their quest to regain the Gibson Cup has not been helped by news that they will be without two key men over the coming weeks.

Midfield ace Rory Hale is set to sit out up to two months of the campaign, while star striker Jordan Owens is facing a sweat to return in time for the festive fixtures.

Both were hurt during the first half of Saturday's impressive 6-1 success at Dungannon Swifts.

"We'll be missing Rory Hale with a knee medial injury, he'll be out for around eight weeks," Baxter revealed after Tuesday evening's League Cup semi-final victory over Institute. "That's a disappointment for us because he was doing exceptionally well.

"Jordan will be two or three weeks out, he had six stitches in his achilles, it's an awkward place to heal quickly. But we have a good squad of high-quality players and they are ready to come into the squad."

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While Hale is set to be out until the end of January, Owens looks certain to miss Saturday's home game against Ballymena United and the following weekend's trip to Glentoran. He could return in time to face Linfield at Windsor Park on December 22 and will be hoping to definitely be fit in time for the Boxing Day derby against Cliftonville at Seaview.

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