The Football League Paper - - FINAL THIRD - By Luke Baker

IN­JURIES rou­tinely cause play­ers to miss games but it is much rarer that a manager is ruled un­fit for ac­tion.

How­ever, that is ex­actly what be­fell AFC Wim­ble­don boss Neal Ard­ley af­ter he was forced to skip yes­ter­day’s game against Tran­mere fol­low­ing a hip op­er­a­tion.

The 42-year-old went un­der the knife on Thurs­day, leav­ing as­sis­tant Neil Cox and first­team coach Simon Bassey in charge of the Dons for the trip to Pren­ton Park.

Ard­ley made al­most 500 ap­pear­ances as a player, 301 of those com­ing for the old Wim­ble­don FC, and he ad­mits the wear and tear on his hip joint ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing his play­ing ca­reer.

But although it will be a while un­til he makes a full re­cov­ery, the Dons manager, pic­tured

right, should be back on the side­lines for Good Fri­day’s game with Northamp­ton, even if he may be wav­ing a crutch in frus­tra­tion.

And he’ll be fol­low­ing in good com­pany if he does be­cause, as our pic­tures above show, the likes of then-QPR boss Harry Red­knapp and for­mer Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, now in charge of Ip­swich, have pre­vi­ously wielded their crutches on the side­line.

“I am likely to be on crutches for two weeks and then it will be a long road back and maybe a num­ber of months be­fore I get back to where I want to be,” ad­mit­ted Ard­ley.

“You can­not pick your time when the op­er­a­tion is be­ing done through the NHS and I had been wait­ing for 18 months.

“I needed some bone shaved off and I had a tear in my labral around the hip joint. This af­fected my left side.

“I could still take train­ing but the op­er­a­tion was more for my well-be­ing.

“Sim­i­lar to a lot of foot­ballers, I think it is down to wear and tear.

“I can­not do much ex­er­cise and that is some­thing I had got used to do­ing dur­ing the last 15 to 20 years.”

With Wim­ble­don still har­bour­ing am­bi­tions of a top-seven fin­ish, it was un­doubt­edly an in­op­por­tune time for Ard­ley to face surgery.

But the for­mer mid­fielder took train­ing as nor­mal on Mon­day and Tues­day be­fore hand­ing the reins to Cox and Bassey.

SOME­THING TO LEAN ON: Harry Red­knapp doesn’t look too happy, but Mick McCarthy found his crutches use­ful

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