Accies boss hopeful Crawford will be back soon despite ‘couple of wee setbacks’

Martin Canning believes Ali Crawford is finally approaching the end of his injury nightmare – despite admitting the playmaker has had to delay his Hamilton comeback once again.

The 26-year-old has barely featured for Accies since injuring knee ligaments at the end of September.

He did return to the squad just before New Year but, after registering two substitute appearances and a rare start against Motherwell in the final game of 2017, he was forced back into the treatment room as he suffered a painful flare-up.

Canning had hoped to have the attacker back in his squad ahead of last week’s postponed clash with Hibernian, but he has now confirmed Crawford will have to sit out Saturday’s Lanarkshire Derby with Stephen Robinson’s Well.

However, the Accies boss is convinced his latest lay-off will not last long.

“The break with the weather has helped in that Darran MacKinnon and Ali have both had another couple of weeks to get closer to fitness but neither will be ready for this weekend,” he said.

“Ali is ready to go in terms of his fitness but has had a couple of wee setbacks. When he’s kicking the ball he’s been feeling a wee twinge in his knee.

“He’s had a bit of treatment on that and hopefully once he manages to complete one training session that will be him back fit.

“He can run in straight lines – he can run all day – it’s just a case of getting him pain-free when he’s kicking the ball.

“We’re hopeful he’ll be back training in a couple of days and from there he will be fit and available.

“It’s not like he will need two or three weeks to get back up to speed as he’s already able to do a lot of the shorter stuff with the ball – it’s just when he goes to open up and strike the ball that bit further that he feels something.

“Even then it is not every time he hits the ball that he feels something, it’s only every so often.

“It’s been frustrating for everybody – especially Ali as he’s desperate to get back playing.

“But we definitely feel like we’re getting towards the end of this whole thing now. We do have to be cautious with it as it’s the ligament on the inside of his knee.

“You can’t take risks as if he were to damage it properly he’d miss the rest of the season.

“We’ve had it scanned and the ligament is strong. It’s just a case of getting over this last hurdle.”