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Joe Cardle on playing through Kelty Hearts’ title run-in with injury as he reveals timeline of return

Kelty Hearts' Joe Cardle is nearing his return.
Kelty Hearts' Joe Cardle is nearing his return.

On their way to securing an emphatic League Two title last season Kelty Hearts star Joe Cardle revealed that at 35 years old he is still learning.

The winger adapted his game under Kevin Thomson last season, playing a bit narrower than he had in the past.

He excelled, scoring 16 times across all competitions, creating another 11 and scooping the League 2 player of the year award at the end of it all.

After scoring four goals in back-to-back games versus Stirling and FC Edinburgh he went on to score just twice for the remainder of the season.

Cardle, who prides himself on staying in shape, told Courier Sport that he was nursing an injury over that latter period.

It makes you wonder what he could have achieved if he hadn’t been “struggling” between training and matches in the back half of last season.

‘I was just getting through games and training’

“I’ve been playing with it for the last six months,” said Cardle.

“I was just getting through training and getting through games and struggling
in-between times.”

“It got to a point in the summer when I took two to three weeks’ rest and did nothing. Which I don’t normally do.

“Then I started running when I was back in Portugal and felt it straight away.

“So I knew there was a problem. I managed to get looked at by a specialist and have a scan.

“We realised there was really bad inflammation on the bone on my hip and on my groin – I had a tear on my groin as well.”

A steroid cortisone injection followed, administered a week ago past Friday, with a seven-to-ten-day recovery period.

‘Feeling amazing’

The treatment seems to have done the trick and Cardle is desperate to return.

He hopes to do some training before today’s friendly against one of his former sides.

He will play no part in the match versus Raith Rovers but is hoping his return isn’t too far behind it: “I’m feeling amazing, I’m feeling great after the injection.

“It’s worked well. I’m hoping to be in training this week with the boys and I’m going to be available for selection next weekend for the start of the season.”

Cardle, who runs his own football academy and is involved in philanthropy away from the club, held discussions about potentially taking on coaching duties for the coming season.

It was decided it would be best for him to focus solely on playing for new boss John Potter, who he played alongside and worked under at Dunfermline.

The friendly versus Raith Rovers – where Cardle picked up the Ramsden’s Cup after a victory over Rangers – kicks off at 3pm.

“I’m gutted I’m missing it,” added Cardle. “But I want to 100% going into the league season and the [Premier Sports Cup] games.

“I’m just delighted that I’m able to put a pair of boots and hopefully do a wee hour’s session to get myself started for the week ahead.”

Jamie Barjonas on why he decided to sign on at Kelty Hearts for another season

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