QUENTIN TOWNSEND cannot wait to see Louis Bridges finally featuring in a Pershore Town shirt – but he will not rush the striker back into action.
Striker Bridges has not played any football since suffering a serious knee injury playing for Southam United, when Townsend was manager, in May 2015.
Bridges, who underwent surgery to repair his cruciate ligaments, has now been given the final all-clear to play full contact football by his surgeon and had his first full training session last night (Thursday).
Townsend is hoping Bridges, who scored 37 goals for him at Southam, could be ready for first team action in September.
“After 15 months, after his operation and his rehab, Louis has been signed off by his consultant so that’s great news,” said Townsend.
“He scored 37 goals for me at Southam and I can’t wait to see him, Jamie Clarke and Gaz Evans in action together. They can create mayhem against any defence.
“It will be a big boost to have someone of his quality to come back within the first month or so of the season, but I’m certainly not going to rush him back.”
Bridges followed Townsend to Pershore from Southam when the latter took over last November and he joined the backroom staff while he continued his rehab.
His injury came in the most unexpected fashion in what should have been one of the highlights of the 2014/15 season.
His goals had helped fire Southam to the Les James Challenge Cup final against Bromsgrove Sporting at Walsall FC in May 2015 and he struck to give the Saints the lead.
However, when he collided with the Sporting keeper he damaged his knee and Sporting hit back to lift the cup.
“We had reached two finals, playing at the Banks’s Stadium and then at the Ricoh Arena, but Louis got hurt in the first against Bromsgrove in the most innocuous way when he chased a ball and collided with the keeper,” said Townsend.
“We played in the Coventry Telegraph Cup final at the Ricoh a few days later and he missed out. If he’d been fit I’m convinced we would have won.
“People ask will it be the same Louis Bridges after his lay-off, but his game was never about pace, it’s about trickery and he won’t lose that.”