Magnus to miss rest of the season

COLCHESTER United defender Magnus Okuonghae will miss the rest of the season after he and the club decided it was best he underwent ankle surgery sooner rather than later.

The 25-year-old centre-back hasn’t featured for the U’s in over three months now after an innocuous blow to the ankle developed into a far more serious blood flow problem.

At present the injury is manageable and Okuonghae has come through a recent two-week trial of light training well. However, a specialist has ruled that the defender must have reconstructive surgery at some stage to prevent long-term damage.

The U’s had considered delaying the operation until the summer and trying to nurse him back to fitness so that he could help with their end-of-season play-off push.

However, with Matt Heath and Nathan Clarke in top form at present, it has now been decided that Okuonghae will have the operation next Tuesday.

“The issue is that he doesn’t feel mobile enough,” said U’s boss John Ward. “He isn’t confident that, with a change of pace, he can get away from someone or close them down.

“In training he is fine, but on bigger areas of the pitch where he has to move quickly and react he still feels restricted.

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“For any player this is a big problem, particularly for a central defender, so we have decided between us all that the operation is the best course of action.

“It means he will miss the remainder of the season, but we will have him back for pre-season fit and well.”

Meanwhile, Ward says that John-Joe O’Toole could be back in the first team fold within the next month. The midfielder made his long-awaited comeback in a reserve team game on Wednesday following 10 months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

“Everybody at the game spoke very highly of him and said he was arguably our best player,” said Ward. “If we can get him back and helping our first team gain results towards the end of the season then that will be a real bonus.

“If I wanted to use him on our bench in the next three or four games I’m sure he could give us something, but I’ll try not to jump ahead of myself for his sake as well as ours.”

In further injury news, right-back Brian Wilson returned to training yesterday having been out since December with ankle ligament damage.

“He’s desperate to get back playing,” said Ward. “He’s back in training now and could be involved in our next reserve game whenever that may be.

“We’re probably looking at a couple of weeks minimum for the first team I would say though.”

– Full preview of Colchester United’s trip to Plymouth in tomorrow’s EADT.

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