Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson has started a frantic search for goalkeeper cover after Stuart Addis’ Boxing Day injury nightmare.
The Sky Blues earned a memorable 3-2 derby victory over Coleraine at the Showgrounds – their first over the Bannsiders since October 2009.
The triumph came at a cost, however, with goalkeeper Addis likely to be ruled out for at least 6-8 weeks.
Addis played the full game despite dislocating a finger in the opening five minutes.
The shot-stopper had the finger put back in place but suffered further damage to the joint as the game progressed.
The injury has left Ballymena boss Ferguson without a goalkeeper as he approaches the New Year.
Dwayne Nelson is also sidelined for the foreseeable future with a knee injury – and will require an MRI scan next Monday to assess the extent of his damage.
Ballymena travel to basement club Ards on New Year’s Day, while the club’s Irish Cup fifth round tie with Harland and Wolff Welders has thrown up another problem as far as the goalkeeper search is concerned.
“It is proving a bit of a nightmare trying to find a goalkeeper,” Ferguson said.
“And also finding one who hasn’t played Irish Cup football this season.
“We have tried a number of avenues but have had no success so far. Premiership clubs don’t want to release their goalkeepers, while a lot of other keepers in lower leagues have already played in the Irish Cup.
“We are looking in the League of Ireland, and I have been in touch with Tommy Wright over in Scotland to see if there are any options there.
“We basically have to cast our net wherever we can, because we need someone in by next Tuesday so they can play on New Year’s Day.”
Ferguson praised Addis for playing through the pain barrier on Thursday.
“He dislocated his finger early in the game, and we managed to get it popped back in again,” Ferguson revealed.
“We got him to half-time and he was in agony. We managed to get the finger taped up and gave Stuart an injection.
“Later in the game he had to make a couple of punches, and there was more damage caused to the joint. It is basically shattered and there is no joint there anymore.
“He now has to have an operation next week and we will see how things are after that.
“It doesn’t look too good. He will be out for 6-8 weeks, but it could be far longer than that – we just have to wait and see.
“They are talking about possibly rewiring the joint, or fusing it. The doctors are also talking about the possibility of a bone graft – so it is a serious injury.
“It was a great win for us, and an overdue derby win. But obviously the injury has taken a bit of the gloss off it.
“That’s two goalkeepers we have sidelined now, and the two lads have been very unlucky this season.”