Oran Kearney heaped praise on Brad Lyons after the young midfielder made his return to first team action only six weeks after suffering a hoffific facial injury.
Lyons had to be stretchered off with a double cheek fracture in the 2-1 win over Linfield in mid-October.
I’m delighted for Brad because it has been a tough few weeks for him. The reception he got from the fans when the substitute board came out was brilliant.Oran Kearney
The Ballymoney man has worked hard over the last month to maintain his fitness, and he was unleashed into the action against Crusaders on Saturday, with the help of a custom-made carbon fibre mask, much to Kearney’s delight.
“It’s great to see Brad back again,” he said.
“The only positive from Brad’s injury, and I mean the only positive because it has been a horrendous one for him, is that it was facial and very quickly after it happened he was able to get back training.
“He’ll be glad to get back training with the rest of the squad now because the individual work we were putting him through to keep him fit and fresh was nigh on sadistic!
“But it showed with how fresh and fit he looked there today.
“We had to get a firm in from England and it cost a lot of money to get a carbon fibre mask made.
“They took a mould of his face a couple of weeks ago then the mask arrived this week.
“I spoke with the Doctor and the Consultant and they all said he was good to go, Brad was adamant he was good to go, I was sort of wanting to put the brakes on it a wee bit and ease him back into it gently.
“But it speaks volumes of Brad the person and Brad the player he knew he was ready. He was really comfortable when he trained this week, he just looked really fresh and vibrant and buzzing ready to go.
“We knew that if we didn’t start him against Crusaders, then he would come on and have a big part in the game.
“It is such a massive boost to have a player of his quality back fit and playing.
“The magnitude of his injury and for him to be back on a pitch six weeks later is astounding.
“I was wiping out most of December for him as well to be honest.
“I’m not sure how long he’ll have to wear the mask for, it might be for the foreseeable future, but he’s very comfortable and happy with it.
“It showed there today, his first touch was a header, I thought there would have been a wee bit of angst with him, but no he just sailed on.
“I’m delighted for Brad because it has been a tough few weeks for him. The reception he got from the fans when the substitute board came out was brilliant.
“This has given everyone a really big lift.”
Kearney also gave a positive update on long term injury victims Eoin Bradley and Lyndon Kane, with both eyeing a return to action in the new year.
“It’s looking like January time before ‘Skinner’ will be back,” he said.
“Lyndon has been on an anti-gravity treadmill for the last coupe of weeks.
“He’s nearly up to full weight bearing training now so we’re hoping he’ll maybe get through a bit of normal jogging this week and possibly start the football rehab the week after.
“The way he’s going the leg is coming on really well, the foot is feeling really strong and his quads and hamstrings are starting to bulk up again.
“He’s very content with where he’s at at this point in time, it’s now withing touching distance.
“Brad coming back is like a new signing.
“Lyndon hasn’t kicked a ball for us since the end of June.
“I was worried about our season after Lyndon picked up that injury because I always feel he’s our trigger.
“He sets the tone for us and he epitomises what Coleraine is as a club.
“I’ll be honest being without him for so long scared me, but it’s a credit for the lads that it hasn’t had a huge impact on our season.
“I just feel that when he does come back we’ll step up another gear.”