DAMIEN DELANEY made a losing return to fitness yesterday as Ipswich Town’s reserves lost 2-0 at home to Oxford United.
But the Corkman was just glad to be playing football again after suffering a nightmare injury in pre-season training.
Back in July, the Irish international defender picked up what appeared to be a routine dead leg in training.
But, as the pain and swelling grew, he was rushed to Ipswich Hospital where surgeons quickly operated to relieve the pressure on his thigh muscle.
Delaney had suffered compartment syndrome, which can potentially lead to serious muscle damage and even the loss of a limb, an injury rare in football but which also hit former Liverpool man Christian Ziege in 2003.
Given the potential seriousness of the condition, Delaney was delighted just to be out on the pitch once more.
“I’m pleased just to be able to put on a jersey and go out and play football at a competitive level again because when you throw in the ankle injury at the end of last season, it’s been the best part of five or six months since I’ve played football.’’
Delaney admits he initially had concerns regarding his footballing future.
“It was pretty bad, to be honest,’’ he said. “On the first day of the injury I had to have a second operation to try and close (the incision made to relieve the muscle pressure).
“Then they were saying there might be problems closing it and I might need skin graft and if I had a skin graft I’d struggle to play again.
“Luckily, the surgeon, Dr Pryke, did a fabulous job for me, he stitched it pretty well and it’s a credit to him and the staff that I’m back playing after only seven or eight weeks.’’
Delaney, who says he’ll need a few more reserve games before starting to push for a place in Roy Keane’s Ipswich first team, is greatly appreciative of the treatment he received: “I couldn’t have asked any more and that’s why I’m eternally grateful that I’m back playing 45 minutes of a reserve team game. I’m absolutely delighted that I’m playing a reserve team game.”
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