Glentoran defender Sean Ward will make an earlier than anticipated return to action after undergoing an operation on his broken collarbone this week.
Ward suffered the injury in the Glens’ Co Antrim Shield semi-final victory over Crusaders at the end of last month and initial fears were that he could be missing from first team action until well into the new year.
However on Tuesday, Ward had the operation and it is thought that after some rest and recuperation, he could be back in training in a few weeks’ time.
After that it will be a case of regaining his fitness and the former Northern Ireland Under-21 international is expected to be pulling on the Glens shirt again well before the turn of the year.
That would provide boss Scott Young with a massive boost as Ward was one of Glentoran’s best and most consistent performers before picking up the injury, sustained after he fell akwardly in a race for the ball just over an hour into that clash with Crusaders.
It forced Young into something of a juggling act — not helped by the fact that Colin Nixon picked up a hamstring strain in the same game and missed the following match, a 3-1 defeat to Lisburn Distillery — though with Nixon back and Paul Leeman again playing alongside him, the backline has been more secure in recent league successes over Crusaders and Coleraine.
But the return of Ward, especially sooner than first thought, would further lift the team who ahead of today’s Carling Premiership encounter with Dungannon Swifts stand just five points off league leaders Linfield and very much in the title race, whether Young cares to admit it or not.
Now Ward, who is naturally fit and should have no problem in getting back his sharpness, is hoping it isn’t too long before he is given the opportunity to pick up from where he left off in late October.
“Everything seems to have gone all right. I went in for the operation on Tuesday and got out on Thursday and now it’s just a case of letting it settle down before I can think about starting to get back into training again,” said Ward.
“When the collarbone broke one part of it ended up much higher than the other so it wasn’t going to heal naturally.
“Now all I can do is rest for a while and then take it from there.”
He added: “It was really disappointing at the time when I got the injury because I felt that I was playing as well as I have ever played since I broke into the Glens team.
“Things were going well so it was a real setback but there’s nothing I can do about it now and hopefully when I am fit and available again I can get back to that level of consistency. But of course I can’t expect to just walk back into the team.”
The Glens should be in confident mood going into the game with the Swifts at the Oval today, coming off the back of two impressive victories over the Crues and Coleraine and at this stage of the season maintaining a winning run is vital.
Glentoran’s fundraising pro- ject ‘Spirit of 41’ has set up a website to keep fans up to date with activities in a bid to stave off the threat of administration through debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
The webite contains details of upcoming events and includes ways in which fans can buy ballot tickets to win a Fiat 500 car which will be on display at Bloomfield Shopping Centre in Bangor, today and tomorrow. Log onto: www.spiritof41.com for more.