CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier isn’t pointing the finger at Hungerford Town’s Ian Herring after Bluebirds midfielder Rob Dean suffered a horrific dislocated knee during Tuesday’s abandoned Calor League Premier Division clash.
Dean, 24, was taken to Swindon’s Great Western Hospital after a ferocious challenge from former Hardenhuish Park captain Herring, who was shown a straight red card by referee Rueben Simon.
The incident sparked a skirmish between boths sets of players and management with the official then bringing the game to a premature end with around 26 minutes on the clock.
Paramedics and medical staff from both sides tended to the stricken Dean, who also suffered a serious ankle injury, on the Bulpit Lane pitch and he spent Tuesday night in hospital after having his right leg corrected.
A number of Bluebirds players were visibly shaken by their teammate’s severe injury but Collier refused to play the blame game.
“From where we were in the dugout, it was hard to see the tackle but Lee Phillips and Alan Griffin were nearer to where it happened and they said it was a whole-hearted tackle, that was just mistimed,” said the Chippenham chief, who labelled the injury “as a bad as I've seen in 40 years of football.’’
“It’s one of those horrible things that can happen in football and we won’t be proportioning blame anywhere.
“The referee has dealt with it and we’ll leave it to the FA and Hungerford Town.
“The surgeon at the hospital said he’d only seen one other injury as bad as Rob’s in ten years and our thoughts are with him now because he’s going to be out for a long time.
“He’s a well-respected lad in the dressing room and it was a very quiet place in there after it happened but we’ve all had a conversation about it.
“It’s a blow for us because we’ve lost someone who was turning into a very influential player at a higher level.
“He was the first lad we signed when we came to the club and we had high hopes for him next season but now we’ve just got to get him back as soon as possible.”
Bluebirds chairman Neil Blackmore revealed Hungerford Town had offered their support to Dean and says his club will do everything they can to support their injured midfielder.
“Everyone in the ground was shocked when the injury happened and you could see what a state his leg was in,’’ said Blackmore.
“But their manager (Bobby Wilkinson) was very supportive and he said that if we wanted to do any charity events or anything in the future to help Rob, then they wanted to be involved.
“We’re all just waiting to find out the full extent of Rob’s injuries and then we’ll do everything that we can to support him after that.”
Dean, who has previously played for Highworth Town and Cirencester Town, joined Chippenham from Swindon Supermarine in November last year, scoring seven goals in a Bluebirds shirt.
Meanwhile, Collier is hoping he can welcome back Iain Harvey sooner rather than later after the midfielder’s injury problems continued.
The 36-year-old picked up a hamstring problem last December and suffered recurrence of the injury as he was forced off just ten minutes into January’s home draw with St Albans City.
Harvey returned to action as a substitute in Town’s victory over Burnham on March 1 but a groin injury picked up later that week set him back once again as he missed the last two games.
“It’s looking like Harvs will still be out for a little while and he definitely won’t be available for this weekend’s game (at Chesham United),” said Collier.
“He had a little tweak of his groin at training on the Thursday after the Arlesey game (March 6) and he’s been struggling since then.
“We could do with him back to add a bit of experience in there, so hopefully he’s not too far off.”
Collier is more upbeat over the prospects of on-loan defender Aaron Oakley being fit for Saturday’s trip to promotion-chasers Chesham.
The 19-year-old was substituted after 56 minutes of Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Bideford but looks set to return from a groin injury.
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport