Best wishes sent to Ablett as he faces cancer battle

IPSWICH: Messages of goodwill were today sent to Ipswich Town coach Gary Ablett after it emerged he has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.

An official statement, released by Ipswich Town, said everyone at the Portman Road club was “devastated” to learn of Ablett’s illness.

The former Stockport County boss had only joined Town’s coaching staff just over a fortnight ago, on a one-year deal.

His first appearance in the Town dug-out, alongside manager Roy Keane, was during the club’s first pre-season friendly at Newmarket Town.

However, the 44-year-old was taken ill at Town’s training ground last week, and subsequently missed the friendlies at Bury Town and against West Ham.

Town manager Roy Keane confirmed: “Gary (Ablett) was taken ill at the training ground and taken to hospital. He is getting the best treatment.”

A statement, issued on Town’s official website, read: “Ipswich Town can confirm that Gary Ablett is currently in hospital receiving treatment for an illness.

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“The former Liverpool and Everton defender, who has been working in a coaching capacity at Portman Road over the last few weeks, was taken ill at the club’s training ground last week.

“Everyone at the club is devastated by the sudden onset of such a serious illness.

“Our thoughts are with Gary and his family and we would ask for the family to be given the privacy they require at this difficult time.”

Ablett enjoyed a successful playing career as a defender, beginning with nine years at first club Liverpool (1983-92) and then four seasons at rivals Everton. He joined Birmingham City for three years from 1996.

After brief stays at Wycombe (on loan), Blackpool, and Long Island Rough Riders (American A-League club), Ablett moved into coaching. He was part of the Everton Academy from 2002, and returned to Liverpool as manager of the Reds’ reserve team in 2006.

Last summer, he was appointed manager of financially-troubled Stockport County. It was a baptism of fire, with the Hatters in administration for the whole season and suffering relegation from League One. He left Edgley Park in June.

Best wishes for the popular Ablett also poured in yesterday from his two former Merseyside clubs.

Everton issued a message on their official website which read: “Gary has always been a popular figure at Goodison, where he has forged a host of friendships through his time here as a player and a coach. Our thoughts are with Gary and his family at this time.”

A Liverpool statement read: “Liverpool have been shocked and saddened to learn that Gary Ablett is facing a battle against cancer. Everyone at the club would like to extend their best wishes to Gary and hopes that he makes a speedy recovery.”

n Send your messages of goodwill to Gary Ablett - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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