Forgotten striker close to return

Pompey striker Tom Craddock Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Tom Craddock Picture: Joe Pepler

Forgotten man Tom Craddock is closing on a return to action.

The 28-year-old Pompey striker has been out for almost a year with a knee injury that threatened his career.

But the former Oxford man has battled his way through 11 months of rehabilitation and is set to rejoin training with the rest of Andy Awford’s squad within the next fortnight.

And although he will be eased back in, the Blues boss is hoping to select him in a reserve game before the end of the year.

Awford said: ‘Tom Craddock is back running again and I think he is only a couple of weeks away from a graded return to training, which is positive.

‘At the moment, he is still working on his own with the physios.

‘When he comes back into training, he will not do everything that we do because we have to be careful with him.

‘He will be in for a bit, then we’ll take him out, then in for a bit longer.

‘So we’re hopeful he is a month or five weeks away from a return to playing in a reserve match.

‘Obviously, we will see how he goes in training as he steps things up.

‘If he can play a reserve game before the new year, that would be a major positive for him.’

Craddock played just nine times for Pompey last season after his summer switch from Oxford, scoring one goal in the 2-1 home defeat to Scunthorpe – Guy Whittingham’s final game as Pompey manager.

His final appearance came on November 26 in the 2-1 home loss to Southend during Awford’s first spell as caretaker boss.

But, after consistent knee problems, he underwent surgery in a bid to cure the issue.

And while others would have thrown the towel in on their hopes of making a full recovery, Craddock has shown remarkable mental strength to get himself within touching distance of playing again.

‘Tom is a good player,’ said Awford. ‘He scored goals for Oxford, came here and did okay. We like him.

‘But then he had a setback with his knee and it’s a serious one as we know.

‘He wants to try to do it and we will support him in every aspect we can.

‘He has the right attitude and is one you would go to war with.

‘He has worked really hard to get back to this point and I’d love to have him in my plans.’

The two other long-term injury victims in the Pompey squad are also facing their own battles.

Wes Fogden’s knee ligament problem means he is unlikely to feature until well into next year, while Danny East’s groin issue worryingly shows no sign of improvement.

Awford added: Foggy is February-March time and as for Easty, I have no idea.

‘There is a problem in his groin and pelvic area but I think he is some way off.’

n Young Blues winger Jack Maloney has joined Poole Town on a one-month loan.