Ward out for rest of season

RICK WAGHORN Darren Ward has been ruled out for the rest of the season after a specialist recommended surgery on his troubled back. Nigel Worthington revealed that the 31-year-old Welsh international is booked in for an operation on Friday, but let club physiotherapist Neal Reynolds provide the medical explanation.

RICK WAGHORN

Norwich City goalkeeper Darren Ward has been ruled out for the rest of the season after a specialist recommended surgery on his troubled back.

City boss Nigel Worthington revealed that the 31-year-old Welsh international is booked in for an operation on Friday, but let club physiotherapist Neal Reynolds provide the medical explanation.

“Darren Ward is to have an operation to repair a slipped disc,” said Reynolds. “With this type of operation you're going to be looking at least a couple of months in terms of his likely recovery time, so he won't be playing again this season.”


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Ironically, the former Nottingham Forest 'keeper sustained the injury in the warm-up to the West Ham United FA Cup clash in January. The hope was that Ward's services would not be called upon. Needless to say, he was called into action after Robert Green was left badly dazed by a full-on collision with Marlon Harewood late in the second half and was taken to hospital on a stretcher.

“Darren's had the odd back niggle since he's been here, but nothing like this,” said Reynolds, who had hoped that Mother Nature would have worked her wonders in the treatment of that slipped disc.

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“As is often the case with back injuries you try to treat them conservatively at first - any operation on the spine is not to be taken lightly,” said Reynolds. “But you do get to the stage where you have to make a decision one way or the other as to what you're going to do.”

To add to Ward's woes, his current City contract expires this summer.

His late outing in the FA Cup clash was only his third senior appearance for the Canaries since moving from the City Ground in the summer of 2004. His one and only appearance last season came in a 4-0 mauling by Charlton, again as a substitute for Green.

This season he did at least make his first start for the club in the Carling Cup second round game against Northampton Town at Carrow Road.

In his absence, Scottish international 'keeper Paul Gallacher has been on the bench for the past seven matches, but has yet to make a first-team appearance for City.

The one and only injury doubt ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace is midfielder Andy Hughes, whose game ended after half an hour on Saturday with a hamstring problem. He remains “50-50” for the clash with the Eagles.

“We'll just let everything settle down and see where he's at come the middle of the week,” said Worthington.

Carl Robinson, who played for nearly an hour as Hughes' replacement on Saturday, looks the obvious alternative in midfield with Dickson Etuhu also waiting in the wings.

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