Ashton comeback getting closerDate published: Tuesday, July 21, 2015
WHEN Tom Ashton gets the all-clear to put on his Oldham jersey again for the first time in three and a half months he will be the happiest man in the Roughyeds’ dressing room.
Running him a close second will be the boss — Scott Naylor.
Ashton tore the ligaments in his left knee in only his second game for Naylor’s men against South Wales Scorpions at Mountain Ash on April 19.
Signed from Sheffield Eagles, the 23-year-old centre had a promising debut against Coventry Bears at Whitebank and looked even better in South Wales until he went down in a harmless-looking tackle just before half time.
It was a cruel blow for both Ashton and Naylor, who was convinced he had got himself a player who would make a big impact at Whitebank.
In the weeks that followed there was bad news and good news. He had suffered severe ligament damage, but his specialist at Salford Royal Hospital felt that with a lot of hard work, patience and dedication to his fight for fitness, he might win through without an operation.
Surgery would have finished him for the season. The alternative would give him a realistic chance of playing again at the business end of the campaign.
That time draws nearer by the day . . . as does the game when Leigh-lad Ashton will have to put the knee to the ultimate test.
Said Naylor: “If anybody deserves to make a full recovery from this sort of injury and to go on and enjoy a good career in the game it’s Tom.
“He’s getting close now to the big day. It could be two or three weeks away, depending on the outcome when we get our heads together with our physio and conditioner to decide when we think the time is right.
“We don’t want to rush him. He attitude and commitment to this fight has been absolutely first class. He’s working like mad.
“He’s back running with the squad now, but as well as that he’s spending a great deal of time with the physio on a rehab programme specially devised by our conditioner from Huddersfield, Kane Daniels.
“To hold down a day job and to be so totally committed to his specialist training and his rehab shows fantastic durability, but that’s what players do at Oldham when they are injured and out of the game for any length of time.”
Apart from full contact, Ashton has been working with the squad for the past four to five weeks as well as continuing to build up the strength in the knee by working on his rehab programme.
He said: “I’m stepping things up week by week and everything seems to be going to plan.
“I saw my specialist last week for the first time in a month and he was very happy about the amount of progress I was making.
“With a bit of luck I could be ready to make myself available for selection again by the middle of August, but it will be hard to break back into the side because they are all playing so well.”