Darke closing in on return

May 27, 2024 12:20 pm in by
Torquay star James Darke is nearing a return to action. (Marcel Berens/Sports Media)

Torquay’s much-vaunted midfield is set to get stronger, with James Darke getting closer to a return from a serious knee injury.

Darke has been sidelined since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on May 13 last year in the Round 7 win over Portarlington.

The four-time Ash medallist has returned to full training – and even umpired Torquay’s reserve grade match against Queenscliff on May 18  – with Tigers coach Dom Gleeson hoping he’ll be ready around the July bye.

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“He’s running around without a limp, ticking all the boxes,” Gleeson said. “I have a suspicion it will be close to the bye.

“But, again, not putting any timeframe on it because I worry that he’ll push for that date.

“He’ll just go by feel and the physio.”

Torquay extended its winning streak to 11 games with a comfortable 71-point win over Portarlington at Ron Evans Oval on Saturday.

The Tigers are in the box seat to claim the minor premiership as they chase successive flags for the first time since 1989.

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Torquay sits two games and 30 per cent clear of Anglesea and Drysdale, who share 6-2 win-loss records.

Modewarre veteran Josh Hovey in action. (Jason Borys/Pixled Sports Media)

Meanwhile, Darke’s 2017 premiership teammate Josh Hovey may not be seen again this year.

Now at Modewarre after joining coach father Mark at the Warriors from St Joseph’s, Hovey hasn’t played since suffering a broken finger against Queenscliff in Round 3.

“His finger’s still no good,” Mark said.

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“But – and this was planned all along – he’s off overseas for five weeks pretty soon.

“If he plays again, it won’t be until the second last round.”

Hovey said Nat Matthews, who missed the 89-point hiding of Newcomb, is a chance to return for a crucial meeting with Drysdale this week.

X: @krockfootball