Belfast Telegraph

Goldson poised for Premier League return after heart surgery

Brighton defender Connor Goldson is poised to make his Premier League debut on Saturday, just nine months after undergoing heart surgery.

Goldson required a preventative operation in March after a problem was discovered in routine cardiac screening by the Seagulls which left him fearing for his career.

The centre-half, who turned 25 on Monday, made his playing comeback in two Carabao Cup games earlier this season.

And with Shane Duffy suspended after collecting five bookings this term, Goldson looks set for a dream top-flight debut in this weekend's home game against Watford.

"Connor has trained very well," said manager Chris Hughton.

"He was unfortunate last season to miss a large period but he's been ready for some time, he played for the under-23s last week.

"That's why those not in the side have to train hard and be prepared. When the opportunity comes you have to be ready for it."

Goldson was diagnosed with an enlarged aorta in January, a condition which, had he carried on playing without having surgery, could have killed him.

"The best news was that it was a condition picked up by our scanning process, and that he has made a 100 per cent recovery," added Hughton.

"He will look back on the football he has missed appreciating what he has gone through and looking forward to getting back playing.

"He's a good player and we are delighted with his progress."

Goldson's shock diagnosis came as Brighton were pushing for promotion from the Championship, and he was devastated at being able to play no part in the run-in.

But Hughton has no qualms about putting the former Shrewsbury defender into the firing line against the Hornets.

"It had a huge impact on us because he's our player, he's also a very popular player and he's also a very good player," said Hughton.

"We always would have found the problem because of the screening process, but if it hadn't been found, it would have had a grave effect on him and his health.

"We had no doubts that once Connor got the OK, once it was: 'Yes, once he has had this operation he will be able to continue his playing career with no ill effects, 100 per cent,' we knew Connor would come through.

"If we're talking about psychological effects, then the relief of knowing that you can now go full steam ahead with your career, gives you - if anything - an even bigger lift.

"He has worked hard enough and there are no doubts that if he gets the opportunity he will be up to the job."

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