Morris is delighted with rapid recovery rate
Torquay United's Irish midfielder Ian Morris is on course to exceed all expectations and play again this season, despite rupturing his Achilles tendon less than five months ago.
Morris, 25, has an appointment at the National Football Centre's Rehabilitation Unit at Burton-on-Trent early next week, when he will be put through a key series of tests which will determine the last few weeks of his recovery.
Morris is in buoyant mood after breaking a set of 'personal bests' in fitness tests under club physiotherapist Damien Davey this week.
"I will be back – it's just a question of when – and March is a serious possibility," the former Leeds United and Scunthorpe United player said.
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"Fitness-wise, I'm flying. I'm teetering on the edge of playing again. I'm nearly there. But going up to St George's Park is a great opportunity to make sure that we've covered all the bases."
It was on September 28, during a training session at Nottingham Forest before United played away to another of his previous clubs, Chesterfield, that Morris suddenly went down in pain. No team-mate had touched him.
"Initially, you can't help thinking that it's a career-threatening injury, potentially," he said. "You ask yourself: 'Will I play again?'
"Then you start to fight back, through 'yes, I'm going to play again' to 'when will I play again? But to get where I am, after 18 weeks, is unbelievable, and a lot of it is down to the great team around me.
"The fact that I had surgery within four days of being injured has saved me maybe a month of rehab. And the surgeon, James Davis, is an amazing guy. I owe a lot to Damo [Davey] and Gareth Law [youth physiotherapist] for all their help through my rehab.
"All the work can be boring, and sometimes it's painful, but it has to be done."
United's new link with the Dame Hannah Rogers School at their Seale Hayne training base has also given the club access to the school's hydrotherapy unit.
"That has been unbelievable for me, to be able to do jogging and calf raises in the pool, when I couldn't have done them outside without risk," Morris said.
Davey, who confirmed that Morris originally suffered a total rupture of his tendon, added: "It has been a strict regime all winter, but Ian has stuck to it to the letter.
"He's badgering me now to move on, but these tests at St George's Park next week are important – they'll tell us whether we've missed anything or whether Ian is where we want him to be.
"The crucial thing is to try and make sure that, when he does start playing, he doesn't break down.
"When Ian runs out on the pitch again, it's going to be an emotional day for him, and for me as well.
"He understands what it feels like to worry about never playing again. But, because of what he's been through, we might just see a better Ian Morris when this is all over."
Meanwhile, United are keen to sign a forward to help cover for suspended leading scorer Rene Howe.
Howe is banned for the next two games, at home to Fleetwood Town on Saturday and Rotherham United next Tuesday, after picking up a tenth booking in last weekend's 2-1 npower League Two defeat at Cheltenham Town.
Assistant manager Shaun Taylor, in charge in the continued absence through illness of manager Martin Ling, said: "There have been several calls made to different clubs.
"Martin did a fair amount of work before, because we knew it was a matter of when Rene was going to get his tenth booking. But it has got to be the right person coming in, and for the right reasons."
The rumour-mill has thrown up former Bristol City and Crawley Town striker John Akinde, AFC Bournemouth centre-forward Jayden Stockley and ex-Gulls favourite Elliot Benyon, currently out of favour at Southend United, as possible targets.
The new loan 'window' does not reopen until tomorrow, but Town would like to have someone on board in time for the Fleetwood game.
United have confirmed that Taylor will again take the team against Fleetwood, and Ling is not expected back for the Rotherham match either.