Sidelined duo close to making a return to training
SCUNTHORPE RUFC will see two of their long-term injured players take significant steps on the road back to fitness during the next few weeks.
Centre Ash Dibden and forward Dave Garbutt have had little or no match time for the Greens this season, but both are on the verge of being able to return to full contact training.
News of their recovery is a boost to a side who fell six points from safety in National Three Midlands as a result of their 22-8 defeat against Sandbach last weekend.
Dibden, 20, dislocated his shoulder in September – for the fourth time in his career. He missed the whole of last season with the same injury.
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But having had surgery on this latest setback prior to Christmas, he has a good chance of reestablishing himself in the starting XV during the second half of the campaign.
Providing the player himself feels up to it.
"He had his operation and everything has been sorted out, so we're looking at six or seven weeks before Ash is back in the frame," said coach Tim Robinson.
"I spoke to him at great length and we're going to see how it goes. There's no pressure to come back this season, but if he feels he's ready and wants to play, we'll hopefully get him back.
"After the first couple of weeks after he'd done it he was back in training, although didn't do the contact stuff.
"He trained pretty much all the way up until his operation but since then he has been in a sling for nearly three weeks so he hasn't done as much in that time.
"Since he's been back, he's been able to maintain his fitness, it's just the contact that's been lacking.
"Once he gets his confidence back and feels comfortable he'll be ready to come back into the frame."
Although disappointed at having had to do without Dibden, Robinson believes only in recent weeks have the Greens found the ideal replacement.
Steve Johnson joined fellow Hull team-mate Will Robinson on loan at Heslam Park from the National Two North club and the Scunthorpe coach has been delighted with the way the Bishop Burton College student has settled in.
"He's a quality player," said Robinson
"We got Will Robinson on loan from Hull and he put us in touch with him.
"He told us he had a friend at Bishop Burton and that he wasn't getting much game time at Hull and wanted a club.
"He came across and I liked what I saw. Chris Murphy at Hull said we could take him on loan for the season.
"His attitude, commitment and general all round play is a very good player.
"Since we lost Ash in that position we haven't really played with a natural 13.
"It's great Steve has come in because that's what he is. He's made a big difference."
Like Dibden, Garbutt is also ready to step up his recovery from a horror injury in which he broke his fibula, dislocated his ankle and damaged ligaments in a match against Longton a year ago.
The nature of his injuries though, and the time he has spent out of the game, means he is sure to still be some weeks away from being considered for first-team duty.
"Dave is due to start contact training in a few weeks," said Robinson of the No. 8, who took charge of the Greens' lineout coaching during the summer.
"As well as doing a bit of coaching, he's been joining in with the lads since before Christmas.
"It's a good thing to get players back because it adds to the competition and really revs the lads up."