Lilywhites Rocked by Injuries
Dundalk FC has been rocked by injuries to first-team players Greg Bolger, Stephen Maher and Eoghan Osborne, as well as Youth team player Glen Trainor, while Dean Bennett is also recovering from a hamstring strain. Bolger will be absent for between 6-8 weeks with a thigh strain, Maher is likely to need surgery on torn groin muscles, Osborne will be sidelined until July at the earliest with a fractured tibia, while Trainor is also ruled out through a broken leg. Bennett, however, is close to a return after missing the last three games through a hamstring injury.
The club received news this week that 22-year-old Bolger has sustained a grade two strain to his thigh muscle and is expected to be absent until the end of May. “It’s a significant strain,” manager Ian Foster said, “and it’s unfortunate because he had worked hard on his rehabilitation. It’s a blow to us and it’s obviously a big blow to Greg. We’ll start his rehabilitation process now and hopefully we don’t have any setbacks within that timeframe and we can get him on the pitch towards the back end of May. It’s not a big shock; it’s something that he had been carrying a little bit. The severity of it is disappointing for us and Greg, because of the time that it will keep him out and the importance of the games that he’ll miss. I feel for Greg because it’s never nice to come into a new football club and suffer such a bad injury so early on. It’s part and parcel of football, Greg can appreciate that, but at the same time it is disappointing for everybody.”
Maher, meanwhile, underwent an MRI scan and is likely to have to undergo surgery on torn groin muscles. However, there will be no decision made until the 23-year-old sees a specialist on Friday. “At the same time that we sent Greg, we sent Stephen for an MRI scan,” Ian explained, “because he was suffering from groin pain and he has not been able to really push himself to the maximum. People can see that on the pitch, but I’m sure they can appreciate that there’s a reason that Stephen is not 100 percent and the scan results suggest that there’s some tearing to his groin muscles. He will see a specialist on Friday and the likelihood is that Stephen will require surgery. We will continue to use Stephen until he goes in for surgery. With it being soft tissue damage, we’re not going to make it that much worse. Stephen is brave enough to continue to play through the pain barrier up until his date for surgery. He is seeing the specialist on Friday and we’re hoping then to get the process done as quickly as possible, get him in with the consultant surgeon and hopefully get a date as soon as possible, which will allow Stephen to be 100 percent.
“It’s in the same area that he was suffering last year,” Foster added, “but it’s not the same injury. He had an injection at the back end of last season to cure a problem with his pubic symphysis bone. That has been cured. Unfortunately for Stephen, he seems to have damaged muscles surrounding that area. We’re hoping to get him surgery as soon as possible, and that will cure the problem.” While not the osteitis pubis that Maher suffered last July, Foster feels it was a cause of the groin injury. “I imagine that it’s something to do with it,” he said. “Because of the discomfort Stephen was in, he would have slightly changed his gait to compensate on the pain he was having. It looks as though by doing that he has torn some of the muscles around that area. Hopefully, that can be repaired surgically and we’ll get Stephen on the pitch as soon as possible.” Maher will, however, be available for the upcoming games. “Stephen will be involved until we actually get him under the surgeon’s knife,” Ian said. “Hopefully, that’s the process that the surgeon wants to go down, rather than an option of rest and maybe one or two injections. That’s not the road I personally want to go down; this needs to come to a conclusion. Stephen is the same; he wants an end to this. He wants to be 100 percent again; it is a long time since he was. We won’t know until Stephen sees the specialist how long he will be out for.”
The news of Bolger and Maher has been followed by the blow of losing Osborne until July at the earliest, after the 19-year-old suffered a broken leg in training with the Reserves on Tuesday night. “It was difficult enough on the day that we realised two of the central midfield players were going to be missing for long periods, that Eoghan Osborne, on his return from a hamstring injury, fractured his tibia,” Foster said. “It’s a terrible blow, not only for the first-team squad but for Eoghan personally, who was dogged a little bit by a hamstring strain early on in the season. He had to come off in the first game of the season at Shamrock Rovers. To finally get his rehabilitation all done and dusted, to suffer such an injury in training is heartbreaking for the kid. He is in plaster and I’d imagine he’ll be in that for around 10-12 weeks, which would rule him out until July/August.” Osborne’s break comes just five days after the broken leg suffered by Trainor at training last Thursday. “Glen is a young player that we have got high prospects for,” Ian said. “He is a really nice player, you can see that in him, and although he will predominantly be used in the junior teams this season, he was named as a substitute in the game versus Bohemians. Unfortunately for him, he has broken his leg as well in a training session. He’s another young boy who is going to be hugely disappointed, but we’ll look after him and make sure he gets the proper rehabilitation, and hopefully we’ll see these boys on the pitch in the not too distant future.”
The only positive news surrounds Bennett (left), who is nearing recovery following a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since he was subbed in the first half of the home win over Galway United three weeks ago. “There is some light at the end of the tunnel with Dean,” Foster said. “He is probably 4-5 days away from being back involved fully. Friday night will probably be too soon for Dean. We might, if we need to, take a chance on him on Monday. But with the amount of games that we have got coming up, and the importance of those games, we can’t risk Dean. As much as we need him on the pitch, we have got to be sensible, because if he misses 4-6 weeks he could miss a dozen games in that time. As much as we want Dean back on the pitch, we have to be sensible with his rehabilitation and make sure that he is 100 percent before he comes back into the team.” With Bolger, Maher and Osborne out long-term, Foster is left with a 16-man senior squad, and he admits: “It is very tight. We seemed to have this problem last year. We suffered some bad injuries. Obviously, the Osborne one is very, very frustrating for Eoghan and myself. But injuries are part and parcel of football. It is unfortunate for us that with the amount of games we have got coming up, we’re without three huge players for us. It’s disappointing, not only for the playing staff, but for myself and my staff and I’m sure the fans, who want to see Dundalk being able to put out their best 11 and have competition for places and everything else that goes with that. But we have got to get on with it. That’s the hand we have been dealt with. We wish these lads the best of luck in their recovery, and we’ll look after them to the best of our ability.”