A fantastic pre-season to date for Longford has hit its first bumps in the road this week with two big injury issues to report from “De Town” camp. Last weekend’s training camp and subsequent friendly victory away to Cobh Ramblers left Tony Cousins side in fine fettle for the remainder of pre-season with only three games left before the opening day trip to Wexford on March 4th. However, news broke prior to Saturday’s derby with Athlone that Rhys Gorman had suffered a serious injury in training and that fact was confirmed to those in attendance at City Calling Stadium this weekend as the sight of young defender Gorman hobbling on crutches sank the hearts of Longford followers. A fractured ankle the untimely and unwanted outcome for Gorman, who was voted as the club’s young player of the year last season, and it is now expected the former Shamrock Rovers man will miss at least the opening four weeks of the new season.
Given the small crowd at Saturday’s home tie with Athlone, which ended in a 3-1 triumph for Tony Cousins Longford, it would have been easy for the absence of striker Lee Duffy to go unnoticed. However, ‘Between the Stripes’ can officially confirm the new arrival from Drogheda United will also miss the opening month of the 2016 campaign, which sees Longford take on the likes of St.Pat’s, Finn Harps and Bray in the early stages. Duffy, who had made a great start to life in the Midlands with two assists against Limerick and a goal versus Cobh has suffered ligament damage, leaving him out for between four and six weeks.
Given Tony Cousins emphasis on using a new 4-3-3 formation in pre-season, the injury to Duffy is sure to have left a dent in the clubs attacking options with only Kaleem Simon, a scorer against Athlone, left as the only other forward with senior experience. However, with every cloud comes a silver lining and the promising performances of Karl Chambers should see the former under-19 striker gain some extra game time in the opening stages of the campaign.
It is now expected that Chambers and Simon will battle it out for the final forward position vacated by Duffy and they will have another opportunity to press home their credentials to Tony Cousins on Tuesday, as Longford host Galway United in an all Premier Division pre-season clash. It was interesting to note in the final quarter of Saturday’s win over Athlone that for the first time in pre-season so far, Longford shifted to a 4-4-2 formation and that option may now be more prominent than it previously was in Tony Cousins mind given the injury to Lee Duffy. Only time will tell and the trip to Waterford next weekend will offer the former Galway boss one final chance to tweak his tactics and personal ahead of the all-important big kick-off versus newly promoted Wexford.