Tiverton Town striker Owen Howe can’t wait to return from a spell on the sidelines of the EVO-STIK League Southern after undergoing an emergency operation to remove his appendix.
The club’s youngest ever goalscorer when he netted against Exeter City in the Devon Cup back in March 2011 after making is debut aged 16, the forward is hoping to return against runaway EVO-STIK Southern Division One South & West leaders Hereford at Edgar Street on the last Saturday in January.
Howe, who missed Tivvy’s 3-3 draw with Didcot Town on Saturday after being rushed to hospital last week, has been flooded with messages of support from well-wishers at Ladysmead since an experience he’ll be happy not to repeat.
The forward, pictured, told www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk: “I went to the game on Monday and went to work on Tuesday and, at about 10 in the morning, I started getting these pains. The next thing I knew, I was in hospital having an operation.
“It’s just hard to take, really, as I’ve had a good season so far and the team are flying. I’ve always been fairly fit, touch wood, and that’s what’s made it so hard to take, really.
“When I was suspended, it was off my own back and it was my own fault, but with this, I’ve got no choice, so it’s hard to sit back and watch. Depending on how my body recovers from it, it might be a bit sooner or a bit later, but Hereford is the aim.
“I said to my family and [manager] Martyn Rogers that I was gutted but they said it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I’m not going to have it again, so my health is the most important thing. I’ve got to focus on getting myself ready, really, and not to rush back.”
Thanking fans for their support, he added: “The support has been great, the fans are always great, and it’s always nice for the boys to show they’re behind me and that they miss me and that sort of thing.
“But I’ve got faith in the lads to keep doing well, as we’ve got a great team this year. Tom Bath scored two on Saturday and it shows the depth we’ve got in the team – it’s quality.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Howe’s health is the first priority for Rogers who reckons he was stunned when he heard about his player’s illness.
The Tivvy boss, whose side host Swindon Supermarine on Saturday, said: “It was sudden and I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard he had been rushed into hospital and was in a lot of pain. I think the operation went well, though, so we’ll just have to wait and see. His health is paramount.”