The Luton Town defender Sol Davis suffered a stroke on the team bus on Saturday and is in a Cambridgeshire hospital, his manager, Mike Newell, revealed yesterday after his team's 5-0 defeat at Ipswich Town.
An initial assessment of Davis, 27 last month and a Luton left-back for four years, showed that he had a blockage to the brain. According to Newell, who kept the information quiet until his post-match press conference yesterday afternoon, he could be out for "three to six months". Newell explained: "I need to make this public. We have had a very serious injury to Sol Davis, who had a stroke on the team bus. Obviously, we kept this quiet until now. It just puts everything into perspective.
"We were 20 to 25 minutes out of Luton when it happened but he has made a bit of an improvement. He lost the feeling in his left side and it has affected his speech. He's had an MRI scan which apparently shows a blockage to the brain has caused it.
"We've been given an indication it will take three to six months before he makes a recovery. That's all we're interested in, not football wise, just that he makes a recovery. He's in a Cambridgeshire hospital."
Davis, who joined the Hatters in August 2002 from Swindon Town for £60,000, is the cornerstone of the club's defence, with 14 appearances this season and 169 appearances in all competitions since signing. He also played 128 times for the Wiltshire side, before the former Luton manager Joe Kinnear bought him.
However, an understandably solemn Newell refused to blame his side's poor showing at Portman Road on the events of the day before. He said: "I don't want to use it as an excuse. I don't know what effect it had on the team and we will never know."
Newell had at least managed to talk to his player on the eve of the Championship fixture, adding: "I spoke to him briefly this morning [Sunday] and I'm hoping to speak to him later today to see what has happened." He did not rule out the chance of visiting Davis in hospital when the team returned from Suffolk, but did not know if his player would be able to receive visitors.
The Ipswich manager, Jim Magilton, had not been aware of the events, the Northern Irishman saying: "I had no idea before the game about this. But it makes this result pale into insignificance."
In the game itself, dominated by Ipswich from start to finish, the hosts' striker Alan Lee scored a 24-minute hat-trick in the second half. His first came from a pass by Sylvain Legwinski, the most influential player on the pitch, and his second was a tap-in after a fine save by Marlon Beresford. He completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after substitute Gary Roberts was fouled by Kevin Foley.
Ipswich showed their initial threat when Alex Bruce hit the crossbar with a header but Legwinski then opened the scoring with a header of his own. The Frenchman, signed on a free transfer from Fulham in the summer could have had the second goal his performance deserved but he later hit the post. Jaime Peters, the young midfielder, also contributed by scoring his first goal for the Tractor Boys, a tap-in after Lee had appeared to block Beresford.
An understandably muted Luton side only managed one shot on target but Rowan Vine's effort was ruled out as the striker was offside in the build-up. Newell added: "It could have been more. We were not at the races and credit to Ipswich. We were lucky to be in the game at half-time."
Goals: Legwinski (19) 1-0; Peters (53) 2-0; Lee (65) 3-0; Lee (75) 4-0; Lee pen (90) 5-0.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Supple; Wilnis, Bruce, De Vos (Naylor, 70), Harding; Peters (Haynes, 69), Legwinski, Walton, Richards; Lee, Clarke (Roberts, 69) Substitutes not used: Drobny (gk), Currie.
Luton Town (4-4-2): Beresford; Foley, Keane, Barnett, Emanuel (Brkovic, 60); Edwards, Robinson, Bell, Morgan (Perrett, 79); Vine, Feeney (Boyd, 69) Substitutes not used: Brill (gk), O'Leary.
Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire).
Booked: Ipswich Bruce.
Man of the match: Legwinski.
Attendance: 20,975.Reuse content