TREVOR CLARKE IS ahead of schedule in his comeback from a serious knee injury, but Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley is wary of ‘cutting corners’ in a bid to get the 20-year-old back on the pitch.
Clarke, who was last year named PFAI Young Player of the Year, suffered knee ligament damage during Rovers’ 2-1 defeat to Waterford United back in March, and the club has today issued a positive update on his fitness.
Clarke has made good progress in his rehabilitation work in recent times and after hitting the necessary markers, has now returned to on-pitch training but Bradley is cautious of rushing the left-sided player back.
With just six SSE Airtricity League Premier Division games remaining in the campaign, the Rovers boss says the sensible option is to give Clarke more time to fully recover and make sure he’s ready for the start of next season.
“Trevor is flying, he’s back running and doing a lot of pitch work,” Bradley said. “The problem is trying to hold Trevor back. He wants to be in the starting XI tomorrow.
“The problem is putting the reigns on him and making sure we don’t cut any corners. But he’s well ahead of schedule, he’s back running the last three weeks so he’s doing really well. He could play next month but I don’t think we should do that.
“We need to be careful and understand that he’s a big player for us, our young player of the year last season and we’ve missed him and Graham Burke. We’ve got to look at next year for Trevor and make sure he’s ready.”
Ahead of Friday’s clash with Limerick at Tallaght Stadium [KO 8pm], Bradley also reported both Luke Byrne and Dave McAllister will miss the remainder of the Hoops’ season, but Sean Boyd is on comeback trail and could be available next week.
Having had a week off after their earlier elimination from the FAI Cup, Rovers are bidding to make it three successive league wins tomorrow evening and consolidate their third-place position heading into the business end of proceedings.
Since suffering European disappointment in mid-July, Bradley’s side have won four of their last five league outings to overtake Waterford into that final Europa League qualifying berth.
Just two points separate the sides heading down the final stretch of the 2018 season, and Bradley knows his team need to remain focused on the task in hand, starting on Friday night with the visit of second from bottom Limerick.
“We’ve always known that Waterford would drop points and we’d gain points,” he continued.
“It was just about concentrating on what we were doing and working hard. I think the players deserve massive credit for how they’ve been the last two or three months in terms of how far we were off Waterford and Europe, the turnaround. They worked hard and got the results.
“The goal difference [advantage] is really important for us, it’s something we’ve looked at, to concede less and obviously score more. This year we’re doing well in that area but we need to keep going and tomorrow night is a chance to add to that. But we need to make sure that we’re fully focused and ready for Limerick.
“We have to keep going. There’s a lot of big games left starting with tomorrow so it’s going to be an interesting run in. We’ll keep focused and keep working hard.”
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