David Busst will face at least a year out of football before he can begin the battle to rebuild his career in the wake of the Old Trafford incident that saw his right leg shattered.
The Coventry City defender underwent an initial operation on Monday evening at Hope Hospital, Salford, and faces more surgery today on the horrific injury that halted Monday's Premiership match against Manchester United for nine minutes.
Raymond Ross, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Hope Hospital, was optimistic that Busst would make a full recovery but warned that progress would be slow. "I would say it will take a minimum of three months for the fracture to heal and it could be six," Ross said. "I don't think he will be back in football before 12 months."
Ross has consulted the Highfield Road club's surgeon, John Aldridge, about Busst and it has been agreed that he will stay in Hope Hospital, where a nail will be inserted in the bone early next week. "He has been under observation and the leg is looking good," added Mr Ross. "He suffered an open fracture of the right tibia and we have applied an external fixator to hold the fracture and cleaned the wound. Although it is a serious injury, I am optimistic the fracture will heal spontaneously."
Even if Busst maintains his recovery schedule, he will be approaching his 30th birthday when ready to return a year from now. Coventry, however, have firmly dismissed reports claiming that his career is over. Their secretary, Graham Hover, said yesterday: "He is a strong individual. For people to write him off at this stage is quite ridiculous."
The Liverpool utility player, Steve Harkness, who broke his leg playing against Coventry, could be back in action sooner than expected. Harkness suffered a double fracture in the defeat at Highfield Road on Saturday. Original estimates were set at nine months for a full recovery but his manager, Roy Evans, said: "The leg has been pinned and it looks to be a successful job. The signs are that it looks a nice, neat job and it might not be long."
Arsenal are set to finalise the pounds 1.3m signing of the French international left-back, Bixente Lizarazu, later this week. The Gunners want Lizarazu to sign a pre-contract which will allow him to stay with Bordeaux as they attempt to win the Uefa Cup.
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