THE return of Highland League football might be some way away, but for Deveronvale’s Harry Noble the wait will be a long one.
For the Buckie-based defender has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee and will undergo major surgery before the summer.
Noble (25) may also need an operation on his knee cartilage, but is hoping to go under the surgeon’s knife in May, and will be out for of football for the best part of a year to recuperate.
The dreaded ACL rupture is a common injury among footballers, and Vale have had their fair share of players go through the same surgery.
Stopper Kevin Adams has twice had cruciate surgery while star striker Dane Ballard is on the road to recovery after getting the same op in 2019.
Noble isn’t even the only Vale player to require the operation right now, as team-mate Colin Charlesworth has torn his ACL but faces a possible wait until the end of the year to get his repair work done.
“We trained just after Christmas and I hurt the knee then,” Noble said.
“Two years ago in July I tore my cartilage and I was out for a couple of months with that.
“It felt the same and I heard the same noise this time so I went to see the physio, thinking I had torn the cartilage again.
“But then he gave me the bad news that it was worse. I’ve ruptured my ACL but then I got an MRI scan and I might also have a meniscus tear in the root of my cartilage, which isn’t too good.
“You are nine months before you can do anything with the ACL surgery. If they do the cartilage surgery as well, it’s six weeks before I can put any weight on it.”
He has been told he will get the operation in Elgin but it won’t be before April.
Vale team-mates have been on the other end of the phone to cheer him up as he faces a long time out of action.
"Dane (Ballard) came back last season from ACL surgery having been out for so long. It hasn’t helped him that we have been stopping and starting, but he's on the way back.
"Coco (Colin Charlesworth) has went through the scan so we have been speaking a fair bit about it and he has been trying to keep my spirits up.
"Kev Adams ruptured his and tore it afterwards so he has done it twice and I’ve spoken to him a wee bit about it.
"It’s a bad injury but there’s plenty of boys who have done it."
Noble was looking forward to getting going in new boss Craig Stewart’s managerial reign alongside assistant Michael Morrison.
Stewart was appointed as Steve Dolan's successor at the start of the year and brought in former Buckie Thistle title-winning captain Morrison as his number two.
“Hopefully it will work out well," Noble said.
"Everyone knows Craig and he doesn’t take any nonsense.
“Mo has played in the league for many years and we know what he’s won, so I’m sure he can help us.
“We are a good team but we haven’t been showing that so we need to start getting the results together, even if it means winning ugly.”
He pointed to Vale’s last competitive match at home to Keith on December 19 as an example of falling just short of success.
“We played really well and ended up conceding a goal right at the end and losing.
"That was a tough one when we played well and worked hard but still never got any points for it. That’s one of the things we need to get going.”
Noble, whose Highland League career began as a 17-year-old at home town Buckie, will have to wait before he can help Vale's target of climbing the Highland League rankings.
But with the right recovery time, he can come back stronger and show the kind of form which has made him a firm favourite with the Banff club's supporters.
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