Gleghorne can see light at end of the tunnel after injury misery
Lisnagarvey's international defender Paul Gleghorne is almost ready to make his comeback after being sidelined for over four months.
That's good news for the Blues, who are sitting second in the EY Irish Hockey League with a game in hand, and also for Irish coach Craig Fulton, who will be glad to have his 190-times-capped talisman back in the squad which resumes training just after Christmas.
Gleghorne hasn't played since the Green Machine's fifth-place finish in the World Hockey League semi-final tournament in Johannesburg, which earned them a place in next year's World Cup finals in India.
But he hopes to be playing again within the next few weeks, possibly in time for Garvey's Irish Senior Cup second-round tie against Railway Union on November 28.
And he'll certainly be ready well before Ireland's training camp in Spain in January when they will play a series of games against the hosts and the Netherlands as build-up to the prestigious Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in March.
Fulton, pleased that his team maintained their 10th place when the latest world rankings were revealed on Monday, will also hope to have his most capped player, Eugene Magee, fully fit again, as well as his Banbridge clubmate Johnny McKee, the duo also injured out in Johannesburg.
Magee is back in action already and should be back to his best inside the next few weeks as he gets more match action.
Gleghorne, though, will be sitting out Garvey's IHL clash against Cookstown at Hillsborough on Saturday as he completes his rehabilitation.
"I hope to be ready within a few weeks," he said.
"I got an injection in my hamstring last Wednesday and things are looking much better. It will be good to get back in action again after a long lay-off."
Cookstown will be glad of his absence for another week as they bid to build on their first win of the season last weekend when they saw off Railway Union 4-2 in the bottom of the table clash at the Tyrone venue.
Their two-goal hero Stuart Smyth said: "Having put in such a good performance against Railway, we really need to build on the momentum we have generated.
"We put real pressure on ourselves to win on Sunday and we performed really well but we need to drive on with more big performances over the coming weeks."
There are a couple of other big clashes on Saturday - Banbridge host current All-Ireland champions Three Rock Rovers, while Annadale take on Pembroke Wanderers at Strathearn.
Neither Bann nor Three Rock have yet hit the heights they managed last season - Bann won the IHL while the Dubliners won the Irish Hockey Trophy play-offs - with Mark Tumilty's lads in particular taking a little longer as they blood new faces.
Annadale were unlucky against current league leaders Glenanne last week and Peter Caruth's lads will be hoping to get something against Pembroke, whose international striker Alan Sothern remains their biggest threat.
Meanwhile, the three unbeaten teams in the Ulster Premier League - Bangor, Instonians and Kilkeel - all have tricky away games.
The Seasiders go to third-placed South Antrim, Inst head to Newry and the Mournemen visit Belfast Harlequins at Deramore.
There's also a bottom of the table clash at Upper Malone where Queen's and Cliftonville go head-to-head after both lost their opening four games.