Injured Delron Buckley in race against time for Stars encounter

2013-08-23 00:00

STAR midfielder Delron Buckley is fighting against the clock as he aims to be ready for Maritzburg United’s away game against Free State Stars next week.

Buckley sat out United’s practice game against Golden Arrows at Harry Gwala yesterday afternoon with coach Ernst Middendorp saying this was because the former Bafana Bafana player was struggling with a back injury.

He said players who would be definitely out for their next game were new signings Nhlanhla Vilakazi and Ashley Hartog, while David Booysen would sit out the next six weeks following a knee operation.

Middendorp said Henrich Isaacks, who picked up a knock in training, will return soon.

“Hartog is doing well. Give him another week until he joins us in training. He won’t be ready for our next two games, but he should be ready by the time we play Kaizer Chiefs.”

He added that Dillon Sheppard was also receiving some treatment after picking up a knock in training this week.

The coach said the last three weeks since their last game — a 1-0 home victory against PSL new boys Polkwane City — have been difficult, but he praised his players for keeping themselves motivated.

“A huge compliment to the players.

“To keep motivated in this time is hard.

“We’ve had three-and-a-half weeks without a game and we have trained, sometimes twice a day,” he said.

“I cannot be 100% happy, especially with the injuries, and there are some players I am expecting more from.”

Middendorp added that he had a tough decision selecting between Mohammed Awal, Mario Booysen and Robyn Johannes in the heart of defence.

The club recently secured the signature of former national U23 goalkeeper Tawfeeq Salie (22).

Middendorp said: “We were always looking for a younger guy in that position.

“He played consistently last season [for Vasco da Gama on loan from Ajax Cape Town], and also played in the U23 ahead of Ronwen Williams. He is a player with potential.”

The Team of Choice were also in the market for an attacking midfielder, but Middendorp said they would have to find a player who would bring in more than what they already have in Hartog, Vilakazi and Buckley.

Michael Morton, who was named as the club’s new captain ahead of their season opener, said he was settling into his new role.

“It hasn’t been much of an adaptation. I’ve always been vocal. It’s the way I’ve always been,” Morton told The Witness. “It’s not been too much of a change.”

Ahead of their next game, the skipper said his boys were as ready as they will ever be.

Their game against Free State Stars will be played at the Charles Mopeli Stadium and will be televised on SABC 1.

The Team of Choice will be at Scottsville Mall from 2.30 pm to 4 pm this afternoon, interacting with fans and signing autographs.

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